Tag Archives: FAE

Mashed-Up: The Strange, Accelerated.

Revised Intro: 5/10/2016

What follows is a set of house rules I originally came up with to run The Strange by Monte Cook Games using Fate Accelerated by Evil Hat Studios. At the time, I wasn’t too sure how I felt about the Cypher System. Since then, I’ve ran quite a few games using both The Strange and the Cypher System Rulebook. It’s grown on me, and it’s one of my favorite new systems.

That said, there’s still a lot that merging Cypher and Fate can provide. The biggest advantage is how Fate handles Aspects, and relies on the narrative to define the rules. As long as you and your GM agree on what a descriptor on your sheet means, you can rock it. On the flipside, I think Cypher has the strength in allowing newcomers to cherry pick descriptors, types and foci to build a character in a somewhat “Mad Libs” fashion. My only gripe is then you’re stuck with an ability progression that is somewhere between d20 Feats and a Diablo-style skill tree.

This homebrew mashup sort of takes the best of both worlds, and allows you to quickly get to playing. It allows the fluid flexibility of Fate Accelerated with the options and guided concept building of Cypher (as well as Cypher’s effort system) with minimal adjustments.

Note: This was originally written for The Strange, prior to Cypher System Rulebook coming out. I also hadn’t played or read much Numenera at the time. Even though I reference The Strange heavily, I think any Cypher game could convert using these pretty easily.

Continue reading Mashed-Up: The Strange, Accelerated.

Plotting a Fate Hexcrawl Campaign

Here’s the deal: I’ve been enjoying the hell out of Fate Core and FAE. I love fast playing mechanics, adaptable systems, and the philosophy of  “Emulate Fiction, not Simulate Reality” really won me over. I’ve spent a huge chunk of my time in the RPG hobby playing games like World of Darkness, High Valor and others that focus on the story telling over the rules crunching. But I’m also a sucker for fantasy crawls, especially OSR “Sandbox” games and open world style adventures. This past year I’ve fallen in love with games like ACKS, played in an awesome polynesian-themed Lamentation of the Flame Princess campaign, and continue to enjoy game products put out by Sine Nomine (Stars Without Number, Other Dust.) 

Talking with my girlfriend last night, it dawned on me that Fate is an awesome system to plan a sandbox in. To me, the appeal of Open World/Sandbox gaming isn’t that there’s “no plot,” but that there’s lots of plot hooks for the players to take advantage of in making their own story. While what I’m about to share is a bit more planning than what Fate Core advises, I think it still hits a sweet spot in leaving some “flex” room for the GM and players to develop in-game.

Continue reading Plotting a Fate Hexcrawl Campaign

Compelled by Fate (Accelerated)

Summer comes to an end, and I find myself back in the college swing. Which means I’m taking a small break at the moment from REWIRED  after hammering on it the last few months. I’ve been trying to catch back up and see what’s been going on in the RPG communities, and checking out the current big titles these days. Dungeon World and 13th Age pop up a lot in my feeds, and they look real whiz but I can’t justify investing into more fantasy/dungeon crawl games, especially d20 variants. Shadowrun 5th Edition is shiny, but I haven’t had any love since third edition.

But one system that has been holding my attention is Fate Core by Evil Hat Productions.  I’ll admit the first thing that caught my eye about it was when it launched as a Pay What You Want title. I confess to being one of the “free” downloaders, but I’m sold to the point now that it’s been established the next gaming purchase is going to be hard copies of both Fate Core, Fate Accelerated Edition (FAE) and hopefully some dice.

I know Fate has been around for a while, being the system that drives games like Spirit of the Century and the official Dresden Files Roleplaying Game. In the past I couldn’t initially get into the Fate system: I’d see the simplistic character sheets with very narrative things jotted down on them, along with the + and – painted six sided dice, and said “no thanks, that’s a bit too lite for my tastes.”

And I still felt that a bit upon my initial reading of FAE, starting there since it’s the condensed, essential rules for the system. But then, I dove into Fate Core and really got a good look at the nuts and bolts of the engine…and I was very impressed. Yes, it is very simple in the mechanics…with all rolls essentially emphasizing “keep your rolls positive, avoid negatives.”  Score higher positives, you not only succeed but succeed with style. Score lots of negatives, and that failure becomes even more costly. I should note that one cool feature of the core mechanic is that it’s also possible to either simply fail or succeed at a cost…I love that kind of flexibility in a mechanic!

But the beauty here is that once you grok the core mechanic, you know all the gamey stuff you need to. Those “narrative things” I mentioned? They’re called “Aspects,” and they carry the game very, very well. Everything has Aspects in this game: The characters, the special items they carry, the environment and even the entire campaign world can have Aspects. These are the narrative descriptors that also define the laws of the game: A player character whose High Concept is something like “Savage Ork Barbarian” establishes a lot about his or her character in terms of abilities. “Crowded Marketplace” when used for an environmental aspect entails a lot of things: People get in the way, it’s noisy, lots of things going on. The rules are setup to where both the players and the GM can take advantage of these things: While the GM may naturally use the “Crowded Marketplace” as an obstacle to the players, the PC’s may take advantage of the crowd in or to sneak around, ambush or hide from any antagonists here. The Player may beat the snot out of said antagonists using abilities and stunts they have on the grounds of being a “Savage Ork Barbarian,” but the GM may compel the player into receiving a penalty with it as well. OK, your Ork sneaks up and smashes on the guy looking for him…but being a savage brute, he may very well accidentally destroy a few vendors in the process, attracting more negative attention to himself!

The Simple Approach…

While I dug in and consumed a lot from the Fate Core, in the end I ended up coming full circle and returning to FAE. The biggest difference between FAE and Core is that where the big game uses Skills (like Shooting, Investigation, Driving etc.) FAE comes in at a different angle with Approaches: Careful, Clever, Flashy, Forceful, Quick and Sneaky. It’s not what your character does, it’s how they do it. At first I thought that was quaint for, say, a one-shot game at a con but surely not for a longer term game. Wrong. It dawned on me the Aspects themselves already help establish what a character may or may not know. Our Savage Ork Barbarian friend here definitely knows how to get the hurt on, but most likely won’t know how to cast spells or act as a diplomat in the king’s court.

In my initial gaming session, I was running my girlfriend and a buddy in an adventure in the Buffy/Angel universe. My bud put down Aspects like “Veteran Vampire Hunter” and “Special Forces Training.”  My girlfriend had Aspects like “Watcher of All Trades,”  “The Damn Diplomat” and “Novice Spellcaster.”  Already it’s apparent my buddy has more combat training, survival skills and probably knows a thing or two about seeking out targets. My girlfriend’s character, meanwhile, obviously packs more knowledge and social skills, plus has an element of supernatural abilities to her.

Check It Out 

If you haven’t checked out Fate, there’s really nothing holding you back. You can download the full PDF of both Fate Core and FAE for free from the publisher’s websites (and if you like it, toss them a few bucks.) To get more of a full fledged review and understanding of how the system works, I recommend the following links: