Posted by: markfender | September 27, 2011


I can’t decide how I feel about FATE.

From day one, I’ve been a big fan of Aspects. I love the freeform nature of them while also mechanically controlling them with Fate Points. I’ve always been a fan of freeform systems that let you make up your own traits. Of course, those systems always end up with issues. If one of my traits is “I’m awesome” and one of yours is “Good at Chess,” they both say a lot about what our characters want out of life, but my trait will apply way more than yours and I’ll just have a better chance to affect the game. But Fate points and the Fate point economy in FATE control that so we’re both affecting the story the same amount. And that’s awesome.

But something about the game just leaves me cold. Is it the relatively boring effect Aspects have? Is it the abstract nature of figuring out how certain powers/effects should work within Aspects? I’m not sure. Because, if I drill down into the game mechanics more, it’s actually quite mechanically robust. You could remove Aspects entirely and you’d still have a game there. Zones, blocks, and maneuvers all work with the die system, not Aspects. And they’re mechanically sound concepts with rules and stuff. But somewhere, it’s just not enough ‘crunch’ for me or something.

And I really should be on board for FATE. Not to wax my own car or anything, but I’m awesome at coming up with Aspects. In our Dresden game we’ve started, I’m not unconvinced that more than 50% of all the Aspects in the game, both on locations, themes, and on the other characters, were come up with by me. When people are struggling with Aspects for their characters they often ask me for help and 9 times out of 10, my suggestions end up written down on their character sheets. Short, quippy, damned-if-you-do damned-if-you-don’t phrases are my life’s blood apparently. I’ve even made characters for FATE for fun before, something I never do. So, that part of the game is awesome.

I think it might just come down to the fact that, when it’s time to roll dice, I’m more interested in the game than I am the narrative. When the conflict system of a game starts happening, I want to engage with mechanics – make some decisions and see how they affect the game system and the situation. And FATE doesn’t supply enough crunch there – there’s basically four options and everything is reinterpreted through those. And it just kinda bores me. When we’re not rolling dice, FATE is totally cool because I can use my Aspects (and others) to trigger roleplaying opportunities. But dice come out and figuring out which Aspects to activate isn’t enough to engage me.

And what’s kinda frustrating about that is that it’s not like the game system doesn’t work. There is mechanical weight there. There are, in all of the millions of FATE versions out there, lots of mechanical options. It’s not a touchy-feely game. That magic system in Dresden Files is mechanically complex and things like Strands of FATE take crunch to new levels. But it somehow doesn’t interest me mechanically. Maybe I just need to bolt Aspects onto D20 or something (NOTE: That sounds awful).



  1. I’ve wanted to try FATE for the ages, but my limited time for RPGs has me restricted to one at a time. Right now, my balls belong to Fantasy Craft. Perhaps in a year I’ll get around to Dresden…

  2. Yeah I haven’t had a chance to play within a FATE based system. The group I am running at the moment are relatively new to roleplaying and I think this would be a step to far. At least they like the nWOD system which is a breakthrough after the hatred they showed to d20.
    Its also a bit hard to find a decent group when everyone else around you has a different native language. Hopefully I can find a group running FATE sometime!

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