My First Game of Fate Accelerated Edition

I have pretty well publicly admitted my love affair with the FATE Core system here on the blog several times after accidentally falling into a “pre-release” game earlier this year.  Following the G+ site for it also assisted me in seeing what else was going on around the game including the existence of the Fate Accelerated Edition (FAE) which I never really got involved in.  Recently though a separate community was formed for this little game and I was invited so signed up and decided I would find out a little about it and downloaded the game.

My FATE Dice… Oh, and thumb!

I read the system in abbreviated form and found it in essence a short version of FATE Core with the skills removed and a couple of other tweaks.  Seemed OK but I still was yet to play it and I could not work out why everyone was going bananas with hacks for this little game.  Normally in this situation I would just organise a game and run it but I have been on holidays and I truly did not want the responsibility of building something when I was meant to be relaxing.  Instead I just kept my eyes open and last Wednesday as I was preparing to play something else that fell by the wayside I saw a game being run by the infamous +Dan Hall where as players we would play the Roman Legion in England chasing a guy amongst the haunted wilderness.  Some pre-gens were offered and it was FAE so I called all systems go!

The game was meant to be a one off but due to daylight savings hiccups and Queensland farmers disliking discoloured curtains (it is an Australian in-joke) it was late in one part of the country and not so late in the other so we are finishing it in a fortnight.  The game was great fun.  We all slipped into our characters pretty quickly and I got to say hello to a guy face to face that so far I had only conversed with by post +Stuart McDermid who played a character that was almost diametrically opposed to mine. It was fun though.

I really liked the FAE system.  In ways I like it more than FATE Core and paradoxically for precisely the same reason I like it less than FATE Core.  It is a situational thing that I will try to explain soon.  It was actually interesting because Dan asked us all why we were playing the game e.g. was it to experience life like a legionnaire or was it just to have a game and a few laughs.  I personally have shown little interest in Roman history at all.  I am much more a greek history buff and the Romans just tended to be a little boring for my palette so I advised Dan he could tell me that Rome was ruled by an all-powerful alien race and I would not refute him.  i was there for the game!  The others were much better versed than I in Roman history but one by one they all announced that they were playing for the game and the fun rather than accurate representation of everything in the detail.

Highly prized book and bookmark!

This is an important point to make and I think, amusingly enough, that FAE is the lets blow away the detail and just have fun version of FATE Core!  They achieve this largely through the discarding of the skill system which allows an all inclusive, fun tone to the system offering everyone an avenue of action all the time.  I love this about FAE and I came away with an awesome buzz after the game due to this fact.  FAE uses an approach system rather than a skill system.  In a skill system, like that presented in FATE Core, you explicitly state what your character is good at utilising a skill system.  In FAE you are assumed to be able to do anything at all and your success is largely dependent on the approach you take to do it.  The approaches in FAE allow for a much more broadly capable character.

So let us consider the character I played on Wednesday who had the following approaches;

+3 Forceful
+2 Careful, Quick
+1 Sneaky, Flashy
+0 Clever

In the spirit of the character I will try and recreate this using a FATE Core skill pyramid below;

+4 Fight

+3 Physique, Athletics
+2 Deceive, Will, Notice
+1 Stealth, Investigate, Resources, Contacts

FATE Core character sheet

Both of these pyramids essentially describe the hard headed, gruff veteran that I played on Wednesday. Truly, it is the aspects that do the best description but in my mind the approaches pyramid here looks kind of similar to the skill pyramid.  So, what are the differences in the game that this change makes, and I am not talking about the numerical differences here.  They are obvious, I am talking about the impact on the way that the game plays due to this implication.

Say that I wanted to shoot my bow at one of the evil welshmen we came across pretending to be spirits.  In FAE I could forcefully try to shoot the arrow with as much strength as I could.  I could carefully aim the arrow for his eye.  I could quickly loose an arrow toward him.  I could even flashily attempt to shoot his hand causing him to drop his weapon.  But in FATE Core I am locked into a +0 roll as I do not have shoot the skill.  I cannot substitute anything else because the system clearly states the skills I can use for a fight action and under what circumstances.

I could illustrate this with a thousand examples of this.  FAE offers players a broad range of things they can do as long as they can term what they are doing into an approach.  My Roman Legionnaire could in theory make a careful approach to working out how a missile might be created for example where as I would need a Lore – rocket science skill in FATE Core.

A FATE Play-mat in roll20

This makes FAE a game where everyone can get involved every round because it does not really what you want to do, it is how you can describe it.  FATE Core takes a more “realistic” approach by applying skills to an individual and having them locked into doing what they know well, or trying everything else with blind luck.  It does not matter about the approach, just what you know and what you have trained for.

So, quick fun and all-inclusive games I love FAE.  But for precisely the same reason I prefer FATE Core if I were going to run something with a little more meat and strategy.  I know that the makers of FATE Core and FAE have famously said that they are the same system, and they are in essence.  But in reality there are differences and in my opinion these differences have a distinct effect on game play that would make me choose one over the other for different purposes.  After all, if there is no difference, why are there two separate products?  Regardless of these facts though, FATE of any form remains as one of my favourite all time games.  It is a simple concept with a powerful application that I enjoy a great deal and I highly recommend you try it if you haven’t yet.  Keep rolling!

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