FATE Core is often used to play games based on preexisting worlds established in anime, book, movies, or television series. Sometimes we as gamers make the mistake that this means we don’t have to establish our game world because a rich one already exists.
Now I am not saying that traditional methods of creating the gaming world as you go, or just having the GM create the world for that matter, are always bad ideas. And perhaps the task sounds too daunting, and you would much rather delve into a dungeon right away then figure out how many air nomads are married in the Eastern Air Temple or which type of starships are available in a certain sector of space.
For those of you that don’t know, the FATE system encourages players and GMs to get together and create the world together. Creating the world that you will be playing in will probably take your entire first session, especially since it involves making your player characters as well. It is an adventure, the first of many that your group will experience together. There will be plenty of action and excitement, even if the dice are never rolled.
Designate someone in the group to take notes. It does not have to be a GM. This is not the time to make secrets that the players will not find out about. This is the time to figure out what sort of game everyone wants to play.
The steps to Creating Your World are as follows:
- Choose your group’s Destiny
- Create aspects for the overall story
- Brainstorm on locations
- Fill your world with Faces
- Make Characters
- Finishing Touches
We will probably go into further detail for each of these steps in another post.
One last thought before we get into the details: even though we have these steps listed in a certain order it is by no means required for you to follow that order rigidly. In fact, you will probably find yourself bouncing back and forth with steps as ideas for one step lead to fun ideas for another step.
If your group makes a new face every time you make a new location, don’t be discouraged. In fact, be thrilled. This is a great thing because it means that creative ideas are flowing, and it will help your story thrive in the world you are all building.
So know that everyone is on the same page, why is it important to take the time to create the world that you will all be playing in? There are several reasons that your group should do this, and it is a very rewarding experience in the short term and long run senses.
First of all, it is important that everyone is on the same page. Building the game world helps you start on the right foot by making sure that everyone agrees on what the setting will be like and how their characters fit in. Assumptions usually cause problems in gaming, and the more you can communicate about the sort of game everyone wants to play, the better!
Second, World Creation is necessary for any game. You may do it differently than what we suggest here, but every roleplaying game has some method of establishing what the world is like. Doing it ahead of time helps you get there faster, and doing it together brings everyone’s creativity into the mix.
Third, creating a world is actually very easy. You don’t have to draw maps or make character sheets for every NPC (if you want to, we won’t stop you though). You just need names and aspects. This is one of the beautiful things about the FATE system. Your world can be created on just a couple sheets of paper. We will explain more about this in another post, but trust us on this. Creating a world is as easy as it is fun!
Finally, the goal of the game is to prepare a journey for the characters. In a traditional, the PCs will form a group that is traveling the world in order to fulfill their destiny (which they decide in World Creation). Location-based adventures still do the same thing mechanically, but on a smaller scale so that each stop can be revisited for more story depth. By creating stops for the characters to visit, the game will go more smoothly and new stops will be easier to add further down the road.
Just a couple quick thoughts on character creation, since it is a part of world building but also its own beast. It may be that the reason you want to play a game based on a book or show is so that you and your friends can be the characters from one of the series and play out how you would do things differently.
If that is what everyone in your group wants to do, then do it and have lots of fun! Odds are, however, that some if not all of your group want to play out their own stories as gummy bears or eel-dog cavalry. And many gamers don’t like mixed groups, since there will be arguing over cannon at some point.
Even if you do wish to play in a setting that is directly from one of the series, you should still do the character creation. Granted it may go more quickly, but it will still benefit the group to decide where you want to visit and which NPCs everyone is most excited to visit.
Take the time to interpret the world, as everyone sees it, into the FATE system for your game so that everyone spends less time worrying about mechanics and more time interacting with the world they want to play in.
Nothing is ever equally established, whether it is a fiction world that fans love or a real world that we live in. People are different, they see things differently, and they have different ways of expressing themselves.
Games are a cooperative project, and cooperation requires common ground. I learned that from Dragon Age: Inquisition. The point is that in order to do something together, everyone has to be on the same page. Don’t assume that just because you all love the same book that you love it for the same reasons.
Never give in to the temptation to skip out world building in a Fate game. The results will be a very short campaign at best. Trust me. Or argue with be below, if you prefer.