Thursday, January 15, 2015

12 Games January: Fate Core (week 2)

Week 2 World & Character Creation:
So my biggest fear about this system came to life.  Fate makes a huge deal about how player characters need to be proactive and honestly I support that, but the level of pro-activity this system requires from the players really borderlines on everyone being willing to GM the game themselves.  In a perfect world this wouldn't be an issue and everyone will sit down all with great ideas that can mesh with everyone else's great idea and all the players will have the talent to create fun interesting character out of thin air, but this isn't a perfect world.  I hate to be the one to say it, but if every player had the creative thinking and drive that Fate seems to think is second nature then our hobby would not have a lack of GMs because, honestly, the amount of concept and even rules choices it expects even players to make border lines on more work than even I (as a committed GM that doesn't even have much interest as a player anymore) am willing to do on my lazier days.  Worse of all it not only expects that of everyone, but Fate seems to think that everyone will agree on the choices made with the simple hand waving of "it's a cooperative game".

I don't want you guys to get the wrong idea, I'm not here to just bash this system to the ground and there are elements I love about it, but I'm also not going to ignore issues when I see them.  I've heard Fate explained as more of a toolkit to build your own game system than an actual system in itself and I can totally see that.  The thing is it is so loose that when it comes to a point that two people at the table might not agree in how something should be build in the planning stage there isn't any uniform backbone to hang arguments on.  The only advice for disagreements is "the GM has final say" and "it's a cooperative game".  I know both of these things already.  Yes I do have the final say, but I don't want to have to make all of my rules off of the "because I like his idea more" or "because I needed to pick one and this is what I picked" logic.  The GM is the ref for all the players, but refs aren't hired to make arbitrary rules, they are hired to make fair calls based off of their knowledge and understanding of the rules in place and when as instance occurs that isn't covered in those rules they use them as a reference to make a judgement call.  The thing is there are no set rules, it's all quite literally write the rules THEN enforce them.

As for the excuse "it's a cooperative game" all I have to say is NO SHIT. I'm not looking for a game for my players to go at each others throats, but cooperation doesn't mean everyone will agree on everything and when that happens there is nothing within the system to remedy it.  Basically from what I've gathered from Fate is their stand on people not agreeing is "figure it out yourselves and we'll be here when you're done".  If I didn't want help for making a game from scratch or structure to hang my ideas on I wouldn't be using an existing system.  Then I realized something, Fate isn't for me.  Not that it's bad or that it's not for "gamers", just that it isn't for how my brain was wanting to process things and much more importantly it was NOT for my group.  My regular players come mostly from D&D and Pathfinder and are very VERY used to being given toys to build with and gather inspiration from.  I've worked with them for a long time now to help them grow and be more creative and expressive as players, but they still need a nudge and Fate does not nudge.  As a GM I love to improve and adapt to grow worlds out and because of that I need a starting point to nudge me and once again Fate does not nudge.

With that mentality I went back t my group and took it from a different angle.  Someone suggested to put our game in the same world as our last campaign and that answered a lot of our world building questions for us.  WE decided to go a different rout with being in a totally different location, as characters working in a totally different aspect of the world, but still with ties to the overall themes that we knew.  Once that happened I had some footing to get a story idea and once I had an idea things rolled out smooth as butter.  That's were Fate shines,  once you know what you want Fate can make it and it can make anything.  Early one my players were talking about playing as pirates and someone wanted to be a parrot and I realized they could do it just as easily as anyone else's characters do just as much and not be broken or under powered.

I definitely get why I see posts about games like Elder Scrolls and why so many other licensed products.  If you are looking to build something you already have a clear idea of this system is great for telling stories in that world.  The problem is the system also wants everyone to collectively make a world from scratch as a session and honestly I would say they can collectively flesh out a world from an idea someone might already have.  It seems like a small difference, but it's massive and something I really think should be addressed.  I also still think character creation is a nightmare for passive players and simply say "well then don't be passive" isn't helping.  Dismissing a problem is not solving it, but a good GM can still slowly pull something out of those players even if it might be like pulling teeth.

Past Weeks:
Week 1
Week 3
Week 4


  1. I am afraid that, when I click "Week 2" and "Week 3" in the links above, it gives me the same Week 2 text. You may want to fix that as I don't think I found the Week 3 text to read.

  2. all fixed up, thanks for catching that, must have copied the wrong url into the link