Have you ever wanted to play a kung-fu gorilla fighting ninja assassins from the future? A dashing young inventor using her gadgets to escape her father’s assassins? Or a cyborg policeman trying to keep the peace on Mars? Name your setting, and Fate Core can make it happen.
Fate Core is the newest iteration of the Fate system, and in the 10 years since its first edition the designers have created a slick system that’s simple to use but has plenty of depth. What makes the system so flexible is that it doesn’t concern itself with minutia like the range of a pistol or the jumping distance of an adult horse, but with the core concepts that make up your characters and the approaches they take to solving their problems.
This manifests in Aspects, short and snappy statements about characters, places and situations (Sucker for a Pretty Face, Dressed to the Nines, Silver-Tongued Scoundrel, Raging Inferno, etc), and Fate Points, chips you can cash in to invoke an aspect and get a bonus but only get back from your own aspects getting you in trouble. Together they create a natural rise and fall to a session; you’ll suffer setbacks just as much as fight your enemies, but it all helps you towards the final confrontation.
Character creation is pretty simple; each character has 5 aspects including one High Concept and one Trouble that between them give your basic character concept and what’s interesting about them, and picks some skills (Fists, Athletics, Lore etc) to particularly excel at. Finally, you pick three Stunts that boost or alter your skills and you’re done. The strength of the skill system is its flexibility – the core system handles guns and magic with equal aplomb, and even contains guidelines on how to make your own skills and stunts if you want to.
Although Fate Core is pretty easy to pick up, Evil Hat Games went the extra mile to create a version of Fate designed explicitly for pick up and play games; Fate Accelerated. This 50 page book takes the further simplifying step of removing skills and replacing them with Approaches (Careful, Clever, Flashy, Sneaky). Thus the game doesn’t care what you do but how you do it, creating instant characterisation and even more flexibility – there’s no need for a magic subsystem when what matters is how flashy or clever your wizard is being with their magic.
If you have an idea for a game setting but aren’t interested into any particular system, I’d recommend you give Fate a try. The book’s light and easy to reference, the system’s very easy to pick up, and it’ll handle any setting you throw at it. As a plus, both games are available for free or pay-what-you-want at Evil Hat’s website!