Ever use FATE?

OnceFarOff's picture
September 5, 2012 - 1:02pm
I've been thinking a lot lately about some articles I was reading here.
Basically the articles were talking about the old skool games (SF, D&D, GW, etc) being based on old combat simulation type games which were very mathematically oriented and complicated at the expense of story.

Coming up playing those games when they were new, it's tough to visualize anything else, but I'm noticing with my kids they really enjoy the more story heavy type situations as we play. It's causing me to rethink my approach to RPGs. I really love Star Frontiers - the tech, the setting, the tone all really stand up well over time. I pretty much like the combat resolution system, it's pretty simple. The clunky skills system has always been a little bit of a problem for me though. I currently am using the "Skilled Frontier" mechanic from SFMAN #9 as an attempt to bridge the gap.

Anyways, I've been reading through the rules for the FATE system and some of it's derivatives: Star Blazers, Diaspora, etc. and checking out they way they handle skills. I find the ASPECT system where a key part of the character's background can be used to influence the story to be very interesting. I also like the FATE system's general approach to skills as well. Not so sure I'd want to chuck everything and go with the FATE engine for the game though.

Any interesting insights into this subject?

TerlObar's picture
September 5, 2012 - 1:48pm
Never seen the FATE system.  Is there somewhere you can peruse the rules for free?

It's fairly well known (at least I've made no secret of it) that my favorite skill system would be an expanded version of the skill system use in Chaosium's Basic Role-playing System that was used as the foundation of games such as RuneQuest and Call of Chuthulu.  In this system you have lots of fairly small skills, they are all percentile based, are grouped into categories that get bonuses based on your characters stats, and they increase independently of each other based on what skills you use.  Characters take "vocations" for the time before they start adventuring that give them experience in skills related to that vocation.  I think it definintely falls into the "mathematically oriented and complicated" old school category but 95% of that happened at character creation time or skill increase time.  It never really came into play during actual play sessions except maybe a little during combats.

I played an expanded house rules version of RuneQuest with that system for 4-5 years (high school and early college) and absolutely loved it.  Granted that I had an amazing GM but the campaign was almost completely story based.  Sure we got into fights and had to make skill check along the way to do things but it was definintely driven by the story, the mechanics just stayed out of the way for the most part.  I think you can play any game in "story based" mode but some games do make it easier than others.

As for the bit about backgournd being used to influence the story, to me, that's almost up to the referee/game master to weave the character's backgrounds into the story.  I'm assume, however, that you are talking about something a little more direct.  I'd be interested in seeing the Aspect system and how that works.

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rattraveller's picture
September 5, 2012 - 2:53pm
Don't know if this will help but FATE is based on the FUDGE system which free downloads are available here:

Sounds like a great job but where did you say we had to go?

OnceFarOff's picture
September 5, 2012 - 6:43pm
The FATE 2.0 rules are here..

I don't really have a specific question or anything, just wondering if anyone has ever tried a more cinematic type system in a SF setting. After writing my initial post, I started re-reading parts of the AD rules with an eye toward making it more cinematic and there is definitely some ways to do it, especially if you fleshed out the "Skilled Frontier" ruleset.

The Aspects are really interesting in that they incorporate several key components of good character development. First, it is a type of edge/flaw system in that an aspect can be used FOR or AGAINST a character. Second, the aspects are generally chosen as a result of some key moment in the character's life, and therefore tie in heavily with who the character is.

OnceFarOff's picture
September 6, 2012 - 12:25pm
Another interesting thing about the FATE system is that some of it's derivatives (Star Blazers, Strands of Fate) have what they call Stunts. So there are basic skills like what you would see in SF, but then heroic abilities that are related to them. Such as "Quick Draw" where there is no penalty to initiative for drawing a weapon. There is a limited number of stunts available to a character (like no more than 4 or 5) and some more advanced stunts can only be taken if the prerequisite stunts are also taken, so it helps a character concept out a lot without leading to power gaming.

Another point on the ASPECT system is that it shares a pool of points with some of the more powerful stunts. So a character will have X number of "Fate Points" - the number of stunts they have. Some more powerful stunts will require Fate Points to use. The Aspects are then more interesting, because if someone uses the negative side of an aspect, they receive fate points to use later in the game.

EXAMPLE: A character concept "By the seat of my pants" indicated that in the past, the character barely survived a ship hijacking, explosion, car accident, whtever. If a character is in danger and is close to getting whacked, they can spend a fate point to use "By the set of my pants" to get a bonus to some action they are attempting or to re-roll a critical failure or something. But the GM can employ the negative side of the aspect in some situations as well. Say the PC was making a decision that was very conservative in the face of big odds. The GM could remind the PC of this aspect being an intergral part of their character. If they chose to make a riskier decision they would get a fate point from the GM. If they decided to play it safe, they would have to pay a fate point back in order to go against their typical ways...

Again, this is Open Discussion, so I thought I'd bring it up and see what people think. I find the mechanic to be interesting. Obviously it would not work for more "realistic" types of games, but for more adventure/hero types (more pulp-y) it's an interesting idea.

Here's a link to some online discussions of this

jedion357's picture
September 6, 2012 - 1:02pm
I think it mirrors the edge and flaw system of the ad remaster rules, in fact as i tried to work up new edge and flaws in the past i ended up with some that were both edge and flaw at the same time pretty much as you described for "seat of my pants" which makes me think a hard look at the ASPECT system is warrented if for no other reason than to rip off ideas for edges and flaws.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

OnceFarOff's picture
September 6, 2012 - 1:40pm
Exactly my point. If you follow the link above your post, there's an open GL page on Fate's site that discusses Aspects in detail. The way they interact with STUNTS is really cool too. It adds personality, and some power, but it doesn't take over the game in the sense of overpowering...