What FATE wasn’t

When it comes to RPG systems, far and away the biggest issue I’d ever had was with Evil Hat Productions (www.evilhat.com) FATE.

FATE is a “systems lite” setting-less game designed to be the ultimate pick-up game.  Character generation is quick and simple, the rules of the game are easy to comprehend, and an episode of FATE can be started and finished in an evening.  My first experience with FATE was with Spirit of the Century, a pulp action RPG.  It went very well, and my group even kept it going campaign style for a few months.

Unfortunately, it started to break down as I came to the realization that there was something missing… something I had no experience with not having available.  Attributes.  I was confused; it seemed as though unless a character had an aspect that directly related to what would be considered a basic attribute (strength, dexterity, etc), then they were considered average, i.e. no modifier to the dice roll.

Looking back, it wasn’t until recently that I realized that the issue was mine, not the game’s.  I couldn’t cope with what I saw then as a necessary core part of any role playing game simply not being there.  I tried disastrously to add attributes to the game, and even went so far as to continue the story while converting the basic mechanics to something resembling Shadowrun.  It was the death knell of the game, and even the game group.

From a wonderfully successful game full of adventure and excitement, dragged down to a morass of a confused GM (me) without a good system to back up the story.

I’ll admit that even now I have issues with FATE.  There’s a trend now in RPG’s for a very narrative style, but I grew up with crunch.  I like numbers, rules, systems, and yes even attributes.  Newer players seem to be enjoying this new style, judging by the success of the FATE system; it’s sweeping away all the competition, just like d20 did back in the day.

I hope it continues to succeed, and grow.  There’s thousands of crunchy games out there, some bad but most good, and so I and people like me will always have something to go to.  If FATE can bring in new blood in a hobby that sometimes feels like it’s fading away, then by all means I support it.

After all, without FATE (and Spirit of the Century), I may never have been there to experience that fist fight inside the framework of a double-decker zeppelin.  I may never have witnessed two bumbling inventors causing the Arc de Triomphe to crumble into the sewers underneath Paris.  I might never have seen a horde of albino gorillas wielding tommy-guns descending on the players from the broken superstructure of said Arc.

What a loss that would have been.  Thank you, FATE.


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