Previously on the Days of Christmas: Alternity, Star Wars, Mage, Transhuman Space, Adventure!, Feng Shui
OK folks, this one is going to be, in many ways, both easier and harder than the previous posts. My love for this game is known, so I am really biased. However as this has been a bunch of games in a row that I love, I guess its bias all around. Anyway, I have been playing this game for as long as the game has been available. I backed the kickstarter and was playing within days of doing so. I like this game so much that I have designed a game using the system. I have written articles about it. In fact most of my blog posts relate to this game. So without further ado, I give you...
Before we start I must make some specific call outs. If it wasn't for +Ron Frazier I would never have gotten into this game as much as I did. He ran the first game of this I ever played. I would also like to call out +Stacey Chancellor who was my co conspirator in Fate Points, before we pod faded. And of course there is +Ryan M. Danks who believed in my abilities and together we made Jadepunk happen. I ave made so many great friends, and had so many lovely experiences through playing and working with Fate Core, I can honestly say, beyond any doubt, this game changed the direction of my life. So I am a bit more biased in its direction than for other games.
The game is on heavy weight glossy paper with excellent black and white images throughout. It is incredibly well indexed and cross referenced. Seriously this is a game that is very easy to use as a reference in games. When I needed to look something up, even back when I started, it rarely took longer than thirty seconds to find what I was looking for. The PDF also bear mentioning here as just about everything in it is hyperlinked to everything else. It is a fantastic resource. The sidebars are well done and stand out while still being very easy to read. Font choice is solid, as are the chapter and sub-chapter titles. Layout is very very smooth overall. This game honestly feels like every aspect of it was gone over and over. There is such a solid level of polish. This game sets the bar for how a game should look.
The mechanics for Fate core a pretty simple. You will need four Fate(or Fudge) dice, though there are methods listed in the game for using regular six sided dice. When you encounter a situation where something interesting could happen should you fail, you roll those dice and add a skill rating to the roll. Skills are rated from +4 to +0, and they are arranged so that you will have one skill at +4, two at +3, 3 at +2, and four at +1. The remaining skills are considered rank zero. The number is compared to a target the GM sets and that is that. Well, OK that isn't really that. You see Fate has these things called aspects. Aspects are true things about the world or your character that matter. SO while it might be true that there is gravity, unless it is important to the scene in some dramatic fashion, it is probably not an aspect. However, if you care deeply about your mother and she has gone missing then it is perfectly legit to have an aspect like, "I need to find my mother." Aspects are kind of the Killer app for Fate and so they get a lot of discussion when the game comes up. They either make or break your experience with the game. Luckily the game book goes into a lot of detail on how to make them and how to use them in play.
Aspects interact with fate points. Fate points allow you to manipulate the world and be manipulated by it. Se you spend points on relevant aspects to either add two to a roll, reroll the dice, or make something true that may not have been true before. You gain fate points when an aspect is invoked(reroll or +2 to an opponent's roll) against you or when you are compelled. You are compelled when an aspect should cause you trouble. You can buy your way out of a compel by spending a fate point or choose to let the GM dictate your action for sec and take the point. So these are the core bits, however there are two other bits I want to talk about for a sec. Actions and outcomes.
So when you take a skill it has access to some or all of four actions: Overcome, Create Advantage, Attack, and/or Defend. The overcome action is for when you need to use your skill to get past an obstacle. This would be for climbing, for researching, investigating, or eating the jumbo steak to get it for free. It is a pretty standard skill usage for most games. The Create Advantage action lets you create advantages that would make sense within the confines of the skill. This usually means you can create a new aspect with a free invoke on it, or build a free invoke on an existing aspect. This represents what, in other games, would be fictional positioning maneuvering, and acting tactically. I like to use it to set up finishing moves for my awesome kung fu space pirate...but that's just me. You could probably use it for other stuff. The attack action allows you to try and harm another character mentally or physically. The defend action is the opposite of the attack action. every tome you roll there are number of outcomes that are also standardized. You can fail, tie, succeed, and succeed with style. Failure and success are pretty easy to sort out. I will leave them to your imagination. A tie is interesting because it means you succeed...barely. SO there will be complications for that success(this is also an option for failure, where you don't fail you just get a serious complication for succeeding). Success with style is basically the critical success of the game and it comes about if you get three or more greater than the target number on your roll. Normally what it does is allow you to create a short term aspect that only lasts a turn or so. This is called a boost.
System wise this game is polished and well designed. It even spends a fair bit of page space on how to modify the system to better suit your needs in game. It is a really great system.
It doesn't really have one. In fact it has a whole chapter devoted to you and your other fellow players building a setting together. You get out of the game what you want, exactly what you want. That said there are loads of settings, some with alternate rules. In fact there are so many it is some times hard to keep up. There are all the Worlds of Fate, and then there are the third party settings, like Jadepunk, Shadowcraft, Tianxia, Unwritten, Aeon Wave, Mindjammer, Atomic Robo, and many many more(scroll down a bit and you will see a magnificent list). And the best part? Most of those settings are pretty fantastic. No seriously. You would think that there would be lots of duds and a few good settings, but by and large I have yet to see a terrible one. I mean, I am sure they are out there. The odds say there must a be some bad ones out there, but I have not seen many. So, find the setting you want and get to playing! This game is great.