I contributed to Evil Hat’s kickstarter for Fate Core to get all of the extra stuff that came along with the Core rules. After being successfully funded (in one of the most successful kickstarters ever) I was glad to see it arrive in a very timely manner, and now it is for sale/download both on Evil Hat’s site as well as on DriveThruRPG. Evil Hat has chosen a pay-what-you-want model for both Fate Core and Fate Accelerated. So if you want to pay nothing, then that’s OK. Both can even be downloaded directly from Evil Hat’s site here. If you’d like to throw some bucks to Evil Hat for their work (and a great job on a “proper” kickstarter), I would personally recommend doing so, and I know they’d appreciate it.
I was originally going to write primarily about Fate Accelerated, being a newcomer to the Fate rules, but as it turns out I had a better understanding of the Fate rules and how to play after I started to read the Core book, so I’ll add some thoughts on that plus my praises as well as criticisms of both Fate Accelerated and Fate in general (keep in mind this is coming from someone whose gaming brain is hard-wired for D&D-style rules!).
These games, like other Fate-based games, use a unique set of die. While it’s possible to use regular D6, why not have an excuse to buy more dice?! Evil Hat has recently begun selling several different colors, and the price isn’t too bad considering you get 3 sets in each pack. You can find information on them here. I purchased a set and am very pleased with their looks and quality.
Fate Accelerated Edition is a very short rulebook by modern standards at 50 pages. The layout is clean and simple, which I greatly appreciate more and more as I get older and my free time shrinks. Again I’m a newcomer to Fate, so it’s crucial that this game be easy to read and easily teach the core concepts of the rules. Of course it’s not just for people like me, but for newcomers to RPGs period. I would hope the low price of both the PDF and print editions would encourage new RPG players. While Fate Accelerated does read easily and gets through the bare concepts needed to play, there’s no doubt I had more questions than answers about running a Fate game when I finished. From what little I had already learned about Fate from reading various forums and blog posts, one thing I really liked is that Accelerated replaces skills with approaches; it emphasizes not what your character can do, but how they do it (and of course how well).
For complete RPG and Fate newcomers, Fate Core may be a better choice than Accelerated in the beginning, or perhaps to read along with Accelerated. It’s far larger at 310 pages, but it contains a lot more examples, explanations, etc. I myself have been reading more of this after I read Accelerated, as I honestly couldn’t get the game to “click” for me. Like Accelerated, Core has a very nice and clean layout. Whether reading in print or on a tablet, this shows once again that a 6″x9″ single-column layout is ultimately the best for tablet/Kindle reading, and is now my personal preference for print as well. So while it’s 310 pages, you will be surprised how much you can get through in a reading session. Unlike Accelerated and its use of Approaches, Core uses Skills. This may be preferable to those who already have experience with other Fate-based games, but for me personally I really like Approaches. From what I understand the amount of skills is nowhere near the number used in other Fate games such as Starblazer Adventures and Spirit of the Century.
After comparing Fate Accelerated and Fate Core, I still would more likely play Accelerated, but will probably keep Fate Core around as a reference. Both are very rules-light (if otherwise “concept heavy”), and I greatly appreciated the numerous examples and explanations that Fate Core provided. Again it’s quite a bit higher in page-count, but it reads pretty fast.
Probably the only criticisms I can point against Fate Accelerated and Core is simply the style of play that it both encourages and is best built for. First, Fate makes heavy use of Aspects; these short descriptions are not only vital for characters, but for NPCs, opponents, and even environments and items. Both the GM and players are going to need to be creative to come up with useful but not wordy aspects. It took me quite awhile to get used to coming up with aspects, but once I did it was immensely fun (especially for locations and items). Second, Fate gives as much control and “power” to the players as it does the GM; like Dungeon World this game relies on ideas flying fast and furious from everyone at the table, and players will have a say on the setting, the direction an adventure takes, and more. If you as a GM want to have more strict control over the game, you’ll need to find another ruleset to use. Lastly, the Fate games also runs better for games where the PCs will be able to take quite a bit of damage. It’s very difficult for a PC to be outright killed. If you’re wanting to run a dangerous game, you may be better off with GURPS or D&D.
Like any other RPG game, while I believe a rulebook should be easy to read and follow along with, ultimately the best and probably easiest way to learn Fate is to sit down with a group of gamers (where at least the GM is an experienced Fate player) and dive into the game as it should be done, playing with others! If a face-to-face game with an experienced GM isn’t possible, there’s 2 other options: either joining an online game (via Roll20, Google+ or a PbP forum) or watching a game session on Youtube or such. This is a very slick and refreshingly rules-light game, and while it will play far different from what you may be used to, I certainly think it deserves the chance, and for me has become one of my top systems to choose from.