Posted by: markfender | November 11, 2014


Due to a stretch goal on their latest Kickstarter, Eclipse Phase is getting a Fate conversion.

EP_iPad_Wallpaper_GloryThe playtest packet for the Fate version is out now and I read it. Which brought to mind some general thoughts on conversions.

When converting one game to another game, there’s really two ways to go about it – converting the system or converting the setting. And the balance between the two is always where the issues arise. How much do you aim at one or the other?

For instance, the Eclipse Phase conversion is aimed at converting the system. It’s super-crunchy, crunchy in a way that Fate doesn’t seem to do well. Now, I’m all for crunchy versions of Fate (as I often feel it’s a bit too freeform), but this goes way beyond what I’d consider a good balance. (but that’s just me and, to be clear, it’s a playtest so it’s a bit early to be proclaiming it terrible). But it is definitely converting the system to work within another rules set. Which is always an odd approach to me. After all, if you liked the original system, you probably wouldn’t be converting it to something else. Eclipse Phase‘s universe was always the more interesting bit, and so I’d rather see those same themes come across in a different game than the system.

And yet, that’s not always the case. For instance, I was noodling around with an Unknown Armies conversion to Fate a few weeks ago, purely to see if it could be done. And there were a lot of systems in Unknown Armies that I think work for the type of game it’s going for and deserve to be converted as accurately as possible. The magick system, for instance, would lose a ton of flavor if it was the fairly normal Fate idea of “spend a fate point.” The magick system of Unknown Armies informs the universe, and becomes an important part of the setting through its rules. (Which is where the balance between setting vs. system starts to get murky). In my particular take, I left the Unknown Armies rules alone – you gain/lose charges according to the Unknown Armies rules. Only the die mechanic of Fate was incorporated, with everything else remaining pretty true to the original game.

Most of the time, I want to do a conversion because the original setting was interesting, but the original system was terrible. And so, that means I tend to go way more for converting setting over system. And yet, system does inform setting, which makes the whole thing complicated and nebulous.

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