Tag Archives: Fate

15 Years of FATE

A tweet from Rob Donoghue was a reminder that it’s been almost fifteen years since he and Fred Hicks published the first edition of FATE as a free download.

Around that time there was a lot of discussion in the Fudge community on how to take the system forward, as more people tried pushing the envelope and starting hitting the limitations of Steffan O’Sullvan’s original design. At one point there was an attempt to create a next-generation Fudge by committee on the official mailing list. But it very rapidly got bogged down in fruitless arguments about what the standard attributes should be, and went nowhere.

It became obvious that what was needed needed was for one or two people with a clear and coherent vision to make their version of Fudge without interference from anyone else’s competing hobby-horses and sacred cows. Rob Donoghue and Fred Hicks went ahead and did this.

FATE addressed what for me had been one of Fudge’s biggest weaknesses, the ambiguous relationship between attributes and skills, something that was nevertheless a sacred cow for many in the community. But the very clever and elegant Aspects mechanic ended up more as a superior replacement for Fudge’s Gifts and Faults, and attributes were instead folded into skills. Skills became broad areas of competency, limited in number, thus avoiding the skills-bloat that bedevilled systems like GURPS. It really is a clean and elegant design, devoid of obvious cruft.

FATE has itself now gone through several iterations, but it has effectively become the next generation of Fudge we wanted fifteen years ago. It hasn’t entirely replaced Fudge, which is still out there and still has its adherents, but FATE, with its high profile licences has broken through to the gaming mainstream in a way Fudge never quite managed.

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Fate Core

Just as crowdfunding has revolutionised the independent music sector, it’s been having a similar effect on the world of roleplaying games. Most recently, Evil Hat Productions‘ Kickstarter for Fate Core has been a runaway success, reaching it’s initial target within hours, then hitting stretch goal after stretch goal.

Fate has to be one of the most revolutionaly pencil-and-paper game engines to be developed over the past decade or so. It grew out of Fudge, with “Aspects” as a very elegant mechanic improving on what I felt were Fudge’s weaknesses. Games such as the two-fisted pulp action Spirit of the Century, the hard-SF space opera of Diaspora, and the licenced monster-mash urban fantasy of Dresden Files built on Fate’s core engine adding new mechanics and game tools to support many genres and styles of play. It developed the so-called “Fate Fractal”, in which everything from equipment to an entire nation can be modelled as a character. Fate Core aims to be an improved and streamlined core engine on which the next generation of Fate games can be built.

Pledge just a quid (although most people seem to have pledged far more than this) in order to get the finished printed book), and you can download the current laid-out version of the core rules. No art, and some details may be tweaked for the final release, but it’s a complete game.

If Fate is your sort of game, and you haven’t contributed yet, what are you waiting for?

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Whatever Happened to the Kalyr RPG?

A while ago, I started work on a Fudge-based RPG using my science-fantasy Kalyr setting. It got to the point where I had most of the first draft written, and got as far as playtesting it. But there were one of two elements I’ve was never quite 100% happy with. Things have gone so quiet you’re either wondering what happened to it, or else you have no idea what I’m talking about.

Over the past couple of years, Fate has really taken off in a way I hadn’t anticipated when I started work on the game. While Spirit of the Century justifiably won awards back in 2005, the more recent success of games like Diaspora and more recently The Dresden Files RPG have made me realise that what I’ve been trying to do is insufficiently different from an implementation of Fate to be able to justify the game not being a Fate game.

So it’s back to the drawing board. Well, not quite, the setting material doesn’t change, and there are certainly significant parts of the rules chapters I can salvage and rework. The challenge is to find a way to streamline Fate so that it works well in a PBeM context with a much simplified and compressed turn sequence. I’ve got some ideas, so watch this space.

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