Hey everyone! Today I'm going to do a quick review a new gaming system that was backed by Kickstarter, and is fast becoming one of my favourites: Fate Core!
Created by Evilhat and available for the amount of "Whatever you want to pay, even nothing" on their website, Fate Core was created to be a modular gaming system that can be quickly adapted to just about any setting imaginable.
Teachability: Fate Core is a quick system to understand, with their only being 3 major actions to take. However, it can take players familiar with more crunch-heavy RPGs such as Dungeons and Dragons, or worse yet systems like Shadowrun, to understand the amount of narrative freedom given to players. The concept of Aspects can also be a little difficult for new players to understand, but most of this can be taught simply through playing. When it comes to getting a firm grasp of the rules, the game is very teachable and is easy for new players to pick up and play. The best advice I can give for teaching new players is to have the GM simply tell them "Tell me what your character would do, no matter how complicated, and I'll make the rules do it for you."
Character Creation: Character Creation in Fate Core can take as much or as little time as you want. It's easy to pick skills and figure out your character's stress tracks. The hardest part is coming up with the aspects, and unlike most games the players often help to determine the setting as well, meaning that character and setting creation often takes up the entire first session, although it probably doesn't have to, particularly if you're using one of the premade settings from the Fate Worlds books.
Game Creation: As I just mentioned, the players often have as much of a role in world building as the GM does as everything is generally done cooperatively. That said, it can be really easy to come up with a simple combat for the players on the fly, and since the game doesn't use miniatures or battlemats, there's very little prep time for a GM pre-game. At most, a GM might spend ten or fifteen minutes before each session just to catch up on where they left off and to review notes from previous games. This makes Fate Core and it's simplified companion Fate Accelerated Edition ideal for convention play and one-shot adventures, but even more ideal for ongoing living campaigns.
Playability: The game plays like a charm, and action can flow even with new players. The key to playing any of the Fate games is to remember the credo of "narrative comes first". The rules are designed to be flexible, which allows the players and the GM to tell their story together. The rules can be adapted to fit literally any situation, with actions being open-ended, and aspects being able to cover anything you can come up with a name for.
Non-Combat Resolution: Fate Core is excellent at making non-combat resolution fun and exciting. Non-combat resolution can include systems that are identical to combat in how they work, although narratively they're not combat at all. There's also the idea of challenges, where characters compete using skills and actions outside of attack and defence to try and beat their opponent (such as in a foot race, or when cops are chasing a perp). This means that even when your players are doing nothing more than an indepth investigation, the game remains tense and exciting.
Price Point: One of Fate's greatest features is that you can get the PDF for free. While the additional books might cost you a bit of money, the prices are incredibly reasonable. That said, shipping hard copies to Canada can be prohibitively expensive off the Evilhat website at the moment, so you might want to see if your FLGS has some shipped in already through a supplier first.
Other Impressions: Fate Core's modularity is one of the things that make it such a fun game to play. You want to do noir 1920s detectives fighting alien invaders from the planet Necron? Or would you rather be a group of plucky barbarians from the sand dunes of Azagar? Both are totally playable in the Fate Core universe. I would strongly recommend everyone go to Evilhats website and download the PDF for yourself. Read it, love it, and adore it. It's worth every moment.