Thursday, January 22, 2015

12 Games January: Fate (Week 3)

Time to Play Test:
So once our issues with building a setting were handled I have to admit game play ran rather smooth.  I was extremely happy with the flexibility the system provided my players (at least the ones that bought into how the game is meant to work).  The issues, however, came from the players that weren't 100% into it.  As I had worried Fate relies much more heavily on player buy in than most other systems.  While I had one a player (a federal necromancer) getting creative and using his abilities to essentially rewrite a golem's programming to accept him as its master (a much easier task to determine rules for than I would have expected) I had two other players that just wanted to shoot everything that moved.  Now being a trigger happy character can be fun, the issue arose in that without them getting more creative with their actions or the environment the repetitive nature of the system shined brighter than I could have imagined.

I gave Fate a couple session, both for me to try and get my groove with it as well as for my less enthusiastic players to try something new.  Sadly not a whole lot changed, if anything even my more creative players found one or two actions that worked in a 90% of situations and stuck with those unless forced into doing something different.  That's when it hit me.  The feeling I was missing from Fate and one of the biggest reasons I felt like we weren't playing the system as intended.  We were looking at Fate as a Role Playing Game when in reality it is a Story Telling System.  On the Surface this might seem like semantics, but the distinction is massive, especially for players.  Fate is built around everyone getting together and telling a story.  Yes I know most table top games do the same (and honestly I'm not interested in games without any story), but where the difference comes in is the mechanics or Fate are built all around players being and looking as awesome as possible.  The odds are much more in the player's favor than a most other games, especially in the top three areas a character is focused.

I'm all for making players have awesome moments, but I also want those to be special moments and not every other action.  The other issue is players going in with a more game focused mindset, especially those special people that think they can "win" at a table top game, will do everything they can to play to their strengths and only their strengths.  For when I had players that were getting creative and wanted to try something new or exciting things were great, but the second anyone went into "auto-pilot" all the magic seemed to drain from the table.  I definitely see why people love this game, but it's definitely a system for people bringing their A game and nothing else.  While, like with most aspects I've found in Fate, this is totally fine in theory it doesn't quite work here in the real world.  Most of my players are there to unwind.  We all have days we just want to be on auto-pilot and while yes that can bring down any game for most of those games it only hurts the fun of the one doing it.  When the entire system falls to pieces when just one player "isn't feeling it" today then I have issues.

Now I'm sure if I had gotten more experience with the system and the flow of constructing stories with in it I could more easily hold up the game despite such players and as I said I fully understand how many people love this system for what it can do.   My biggest problem simply comes into the fact that half of my players didn't mesh with the system and because of that I, for the first time in a long time, had days that I was dreading running a game rather than looking forward to it.  If I find myself feeling like I have to run a game because it's my job and not because I'm enjoying it then this isn't the game for me.

Next week will be my final thoughts, including my responses to some of the messages I've receive on my opinion, as well as what next month's game will be.

Past Weeks:
Week 1
Week 2
Week 4


  1. As I said before, from the Main page, if I click Week 3 for Fate I will see the article, but if I am on any other week I can't get to Week 3. The Week 3 links always point to Week 2 instead.
    I did finally read Week 3, but you may want to fix those in-week links. Thanks.

  2. In your game it sounds like you had all the Supermen but none of the kryptonite, lol. Aspects can bring drawbacks to the characters at critical moments (Compels), but not necessarily to pummel them, just to add story interest (with the approval of a mature player.) If they really don't want that outcome, they can refuse the Compel but must pay a Fate Point instead of receiving one. It is a quite different kind of RPG and the "thinking" takes practice. Because it is so uncluttered it is more like like child-like roleplaying out in the schoolyard ("cops and robbers", "cowboys and Indians" [although political correctness has something to say about that], or any other situations where children sit around and openly imagine with each other).

    The Fate Accelerated Edition is particularly good with children. Why? Because it has no Skills but Approaches (Careful, Forceful, etc.) This is good for younger kids who may not have formed an accurate idea of real skills in adult professions yet, but if they have an idea HOW they want to do it, all details drop out and they have fun anyway! So let go, have fun imagining, and you don't have to worry about a huge superstructure of rules getting in your way. Some of the 50-page world books that came out for Fate Core or Fate Accelerated Edition have truly wild settings like The Secrets of Cats or Game Over (video-game characters similar to Wreck-It Ralph).