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Just What is Fate Core?

Updated on August 30, 2013

Fate Core is a generic tabletop RPG made by the fine folks at Evil Hat.

Since it's generic that means it can fit in to virtually any type of game ranging from Lord of the Rings style Fantasy to Starsky and Hutch style Buddy Cop.

It has a heavy emphasis on cooperative storytelling and uses a flexible but well defined system of give-and-take between Game Masters and Players to drive events forward and keep play dynamic.

The Good

  • Pay what you want. Fate Core is available for download for whatever price you please. Even free! You literally won't find a better deal for any other game.
  • The "Do Anything" system. As I have already said, Fate Core can handle a truly ridiculous spectrum of games and has already been used for quite a few settings including the pulp adventure and high fantasy. If it hasn't been published, then you can make it yourself with ease.
  • User friendly. Fate is very simple to grasp and is written to be as helpful as it can be to rookies. Both Fate Core and most of the systems based on Fate are well organized and have lots of helpful notes littered throughout themselves that help clarify what is being said.
  • Bring the story alive. Fate uses a well realized system of narrative give-and-take in the form of Aspects and Fate Points that allow the players to define what makes their characters stand out and use that to define what gets them in trouble and what wins the day. This gives everyone a say in what happens without having anyone steal too much of the spotlight.
  • You don't have to meet in a tavern. Character creation has a built in method for weaving each character's history in to the backstory of the rest of the group. This helps not only build a history for each character but also helps dodge the old cliche of 2 to 8 strangers meeting in a bar and deciding to go monster hunting.
  • Dynamic combat. A character always has something interesting to do in a fight in Fate and is limited only by the imagination of the player. And common sense of course. Create an Advantage is a catch all term for any trick or move that let's the character inflict more than just bruises. From knocking the opponent over, to coating the floor in oil, to blasting Elvis Presley really loud on a boombox, anything the players think up has an effect on how the fight turns out.
  • Unified conflict rules. The rules for combat don't just apply to violent combat. Fate uses a unified conflict system for all forms of combat including social conflicts, mental conflicts and non-violent forms of physical conflict. Debates, battles of wit, and even sports matches can all be just as exciting and dynamic as brawls and duels.

The Bad

  • I roll what? Fate uses unusual six sided dice called Fate Dice that have plus sides, minus sides and blank sides evenly distributed among the 6 faces. Buying these special dice may feel galling since they can on be used for Fate based games and trying to use regular dice in their place can be a hassle as they must then be read in an unintuitive way. This can be simplified by simply rolling 2 regular six siders and having one act as a plus and the other as a minus but that can result in less predictable rolls.
  • Very narration based. Conflict resolution in Fate is very much based on how things are described and interpreted. If you prefer systems where the rules are all clear cut and arbitration is at a minimum then Fate may not be for you.
  • Toolkit style rules. Because Fate Core is supposed to be generic that also means that it doesn't come with much in the way of "pre-built" material. You will have to either use a Fate based game to fully flesh out the details or use the tools given to do that yourself.
  • Large grained. Modifiers of only +2 can make a huge difference on rolls and small variances in skill level rarely make a difference. Aspects and other narrative based rules can alleviate this but it can still be an irritant if you like games with more noticeable differences between characters.

Do you think you will play Fate Core?

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In Conclusion

Fate Core is a simple, ultra-versatile system meant to be adjusted to your whims. With a strong focus on narrative and description it can offer a rich experience ranging from the down-to-earth to the utterly gonzo.

The best part is that it's free! It costs you nothing but a few moments of your time to pick up. Give it a try. It might just be exactly what you were looking for

Be good to yourself and those you love. This is AccidentalHipster signing off.

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