Saturday, February 21, 2015
Weekend R&R: Fate Accelerated
The answer seemed to center on the notion that a good rulebook tends to be shorter and more concise and able to outline the system in fewer pages to get the idea across. As such, I thought it would only be fitting if I looked at some of these shorter books and start with 'Fate Accelerated' which outlines a system in about forty pages.
My first, and really, my only experience with Fate was 'Spirit of the Century' which is also published by Evil Hat Productions. While I am not a convert, I did have a lot of fun in the one session I played. I did like the production quality of the book but the system seemed to be even more abstract than I was accustomed to. I quickly learned that it the underlying system had its strengths and weaknesses. I didn't pick up 'Spirit of the Century' myself though, if you are already familiar with Fate and like Pulp, I would recommend it. For me, it made enough of an impact that I decided to pick up the 'Fate Core System', 'Fate System Toolkit', and 'Fate Accelerated'. I suppose I didn't really need the Accelerated book if I was picking up the Core and Toolkit books but, being that it isn't my go to game, and the physical copy was only $5, I figured a book that distilled the essentials of the system would be well worth the investment. If not, it's not like the $5 would break the bank.
The system, as presented in Fate Accelerated, is deceptively simple. It is a system that people tend to love or hate and I can understand why. It's a system that I wouldn't mind playing but I'm not sure if I would ever do so long term. To me, it's an interesting option for a pick-up game and while all pen-and-paper RPGs are essentially cooperative games, I feel that Fate is much more dependent on character and player interaction to all jointly tell the story. There are very few numbers that a player really has to deal with in the system and the game uses 'fudge dice'. That is to say, six-sided-dice which contains a couple of '+' signs, '-' signs, and blank sides (2 of each for a total of six sides).
Character Creation is very simplistic but very open ended depending on the 'stage' of character creation. You start off by listing aspects of your character which pretty much define your character instead of choosing something like a class, race, etc... This is broken up as your 'High Concept' which is basically the archetype/concept for the character. Using one of the pre-gens in the book, Reth is a 'Suncaller of the Andral Dessert'. You then define the characters 'Trouble' and in Reth's case, 'Steel Assassins want me dead'. Finally, you have other additional (other aspects). Reth has 'My Kung Fu Is The Strongest', 'Crush on Avasa' and 'I Can Learn from Serio's Experience'.
Obviously, someone who is looking for something a bit more rigid and defined in a gaming system might not like the above when they realize that this isn't stuff picked out from the rulebook. These are created by the player, and given the nature of the game, the best outcomes might be when players create their characters together with the GM. Obviously, the GM would have to agree that a 'Suncaller' is a thing and that the Andral Dessert exists. More importantly, Steel Assassins will have to exist and will need to crop up time and time again. Considerations regarding Avasa and Serio also need to be made. With a party of characters all have created and perhaps connecting aspects, it will become very apparent how collaborative a story this is -- perhaps even more than your typical pen and paper RPG.
The largest mechanical component of the system is regarding 'Approaches' -- there are six in all. They are Careful, Clever, Flashy, Forceful, Quick, and Sneaky. Each approach has a numerical bonus attached to it and characters start with approaches ranging from 0 to +3. These can be improved over time and they are basically descriptions on how you approach various tasks and challenges. Quickly climbing over a wall may present a different bonus to your character than Carefully climbing over the same wall. These bonuses are added to the dice roll for the attempted task.
On top of that, your character has a stunt which will add another bonus in a given situation and Fate points which will affect the course of the game. With all that, you play by trying and create advantages for a given situation, you overcome challenges, attack, or defend. Your approaches will determine how you do this, and the die rolls will determine if you fail, tie, succeed, or succeed with style. As far as combat is concerned, it's Attack vs Defense and failure to adequately defense will result in Stress and further complications (Consequences).
Those are the rules in a nutshell. Fate Accelerated is far from being a very granular system with a plethora of rules and modifiers. It certainly encourages story tellers and, with the right group of players, will play very fast and loose and be an amazing gaming experience. Unfortunately, it may be that Fate is a bit too abstract for some people to adequately enjoy. The Fate Core book is a lot bigger than Fate Accelerated -- about 250 pages longer in fact. In some ways, it doesn't add much more to it save for greater detail and more examples to draw from. That isn't to say there isn't new material in the Core book, it's more about options and showcasing the system. Given what Fate Accelerated accomplishes in the 48 page book, you do have all you need to run a game with provided the GM and players are open to it.
As for the presentation itself, the text is clean and readable in a nice 6x9 perfect bound book. The art is not to my preferences but the art is very well done and the style is consistent throughout the book. For the cost of a designer cup of coffee at Starbucks, you can pick up the book. At $5, it's hard to argue against the value of the book. Better yet, the PDF is available at OBS services for a 'Pay what you want' price (suggested is $2.50) which you can find HERE.