Back in March we did a blog post called World Building for a Fan Fate Game where we gave some general ideas on how to convert your favorite book/anime/movie/tv drama into a Fate Core RPG world. Basically it was all about making that first session of world building a positive experience that points you into having a great campaign in the world you love so much.
Today we are doing a follow up on that, because we never really got down into the details of each step. So guess what we are doing today? That’s right. DETAILS!!!
On a quick note, we are going to refer to whatever subject you are fan Fating from as “the show” even though movies and books and other sources are perfectly acceptable sources for fan-based games. It just makes things simpler for our writing sake.
Previously, Joshua had talked about starting a game in a Dark Room. The basic premise is you start with literally nothing and everyone creates a story from that. I (Taylor) wanted to work with that idea and come up with my own version and give you all the tools you need to make a good story. As with his example, I will be using the Fate Core system but this could just as easily be used with FAE.
We asked some Fate players things they found confusing about Fate and below are the results.
Aspects and fate points can be challenging to understand, but with some patience and an understanding group you can usually get past the challenges with some easy rulings. Something like “I see what you want to do, but it doesn’t really make sense for the story right now,” can simply bypass a confusing situation all together.
Stunts, on the other hand, can’t really be bypassed. Once they are created, they are there. Once a player takes it and pays for it, it is a real part of the game. If it is too powerful, a GM cannot bypass it so easily. If a player doesn’t know how to use it, it becomes a waste of their refresh. And since stunts are persistent, any problems they cause will not go away after just one session.
Probably the MOST confusing thing about stunts is the open-ended invitation Fate Core makes to design your own with a pirate’s code analogy of guidelines. How can players and GMs judge what stunts abilities will fall in that sweet spot of “limited enough in scope to feel special when you use them, but not so narrow that you never see them come up?” Especially with a game like Fate Core where everyone works together to driver the story.
We’ve touched a bit on making stunts before, and we probably will again soon. But for now let’s take a look at 3 rules when dealing with stunts, three things that you must never EVER do.
We recently asked some people who enjoy Fate Core what parts they found confusing or complicated. We have already covered the most selected response, Aspects and Fate Points here, and here. We plan to also look at Refresh and Stunts in the near future, but right now we wanted to cover a more general area of just complications in general and how they were dealt with.
I guess we are doing a whole series of things on this poll.
So today we are going to look at some examples of Fate Core situations that got very complicated. It gives me a chance to walk down memory lane, and more importantly it gives us the chance to look at how the rules handle some of the crazy madness that comes from actually playing the games.
Recently we conducted a survey asking players what part of Fate they found most confusing or difficult to understand.
Below is our attempt to answer some of the questions in comments received in this survey.
Where to begin
Today we are going to try to tackle one of the more unique mechanical features of Fate Core, and often the most confusing for new and experience players alike: Aspects. In Fate Core, everything has aspects: characters, scenes, locations, and even the campaign itself. They are a wonderful tool, though complicated and often difficult to explain in words.
But not only can aspects be difficult to explain, they can be downright monstrous to deal with. Trying to come up with the perfect wording. Trying to remember how long each type is supposed to last. Keeping track of a growing number of them. It can be really frightening for GMs and players alike.
But like any monster we face in game, this challenge can be overcome with the right skills. Rather than write a book of our own to explain everything about how aspects can be used, I’d like to address a few myths and assumptions about aspects that really seem to be causing a lot of the confusion. Hopefully these will help make your gaming experiences easier.
The first game I ever ran with a Fate based system was a little Dresden one-shot I put together where the characters were shipwrecked onto a magical island. The system was new, and I had several people wanting to play, so I figured I would give it a shot. I think it actually took us 8 hours to play.
Now this was a build-your-own-adventure of sorts, which I often do on the fly now for games with my kids. I ‘borrowed’ the player characters from the Night Fears adventure and actually had the players help be build the island as a quick introduction to the city-building mechanic for the game.
For this blog I am going to try and summarize as much as I can remember of how I ran that adventure. Hopefully it will spark some ideas for you in your own game.
We love Fate Core here at Burn Everything Gaming. It is an easy system to learn that can handle very complicated circumstances. New and experienced players can have a lot of fun with the mechanics, which are well balanced between them and with the GM. But my favorite thing about Fate Core has to be how easy it is to make your own custom rules and settings.
I’ve personally been doing this with the Fate game since before the Core rules came out. I have an old Avatar Fate-bender game that was based off of Dresden Files mechanics. I have gigs of custom settings for other games I enjoy (DnD, L5R, Shadowrun, etc.) with Fate conversions. There’s a huge list on the Fate Core official website with a lot of fan-made rules and settings for pretty much everything now. And of course we have the wonderful Star Trek Fate RPG that we use for the podcast.
So today I thought we could take a look at how and why one goes about Hacking the Fate system to make wonderful new game settings (like the amazing NIHM game we mentioned in a previous post). We’ll take a look at the 3 main areas changed to make Fate Core more setting-specific: skills, stunts, and extras.
I was digging through some of my old notes for a campaign and found some old session notes for an adventure. So I thought I’d share it with everyone instead. Maybe you can try it out as a fun encounter or unexpected challenge in a dungeon crawl.
The Chamber of Seven Sins was designed for a Fate-based game, but can be used in any system. Each room is designed to inflict consequences on the players related to one of the sins. Hopefully long-lasting consequences, so as to spark some wonderful opportunities for demons and evil wizards in future encounters.
The Main Chamber
You find yourself in a colorful circular chamber sparsely furnished with a hat rack, a broken mirror, and a couple of shabby chairs. There are no blacks or whites or greys in this room. Instead it looks like someone took a rainbow paintball gun and recolored everything in a hissy fit. There are seven doors on the walls, each with a plaque at eye level that labels the door in a nonsense word. The doors are the only items in the room that are a solid color.