Yesterday was a auspicious day. Not only did I get to play Magic: the Gathering at our local Tuesday Night meetup, but I also received my Fate books from the Fate Kickstarter a while back. Kickstarter is a talk for another time, but I decided to try and give a general review on the two key books that I love from it: Fate Core itself and its little sibling, FAE (still the same amount of game though).
I've found the Fate rules fascinating ever since I ran across their Spirit of the Century version years ago, and have always wanted a hardcopy of some of it on hand- at some point. PDFs and ebooks of all the rules are online too- its very easy to get a copy, and most of the time it'll be pay-as-you-choose, kinda cool if you don't want to stretch your budget in the RPG department.
I'm not going to go over the rules or all the details that define Fate or FAE. I'm going to be very general, and other people have already said a bunch on the subject anyway. My first excursion with Fate Core the other day was a smashing success, but I think I'll need more game sessions to really get it down correctly.
What makes Fate Core awesome as a book?
It does the normal accessibility, but it does so in a way I can hand it off to my D&D/Pathfinder playing friends without worry. Its clear and it focuses on narrative components of RPGs, not statistical or simulation- its not going to be the best for everyone, that much I think is certain. Fate Core and its little sibling lack the same gigantic bunch of crunch of some other RPGs, but are designed- clever enough- to be able to generate their own answers to them.
Both use a Fractal design- that is, there are the same elements in mechanics used or re-used. Fate is the system that implements Aspects, which replace your normal attributes brilliantly. The books handle that, and getting them read again, I find myself happy with the sheer amount of tweaking and hackability inherent in the rules. Fate succeeds at one of my most basic tests for interesting gaming: Fate gives players agency. And that makes me love it.
Things Fate isn't, however: Fate isn't horror. Fate gives players a great deal of control, which is the antithesis of horror. You have to really hack Fate to make that work (but to be honest, very few systems really can grasp horror. For Horror to work, you first have to have player consent, otherwise, it will fall apart). Fate isn't a war game. It can be used to play out wars and such, but there are other games that do that well. If you want a hack/slash RPG, Fate really isn't that (although you can certainly try, I suppose).
Fate Accelerated Edition (FAE) is the speedy little thing I find the most innovative of the two. Fate Core is a distillation of an evolving system; FAE is quick and gets you there right now. FAE is a very small set of rules that can get you a character in under half an hour, and that character will be interesting- and playable. Very quick character creation rules, very quick read too.
Fate also is excellent for being adapted to pre-existing settings and ideas- I've seen plenty of versions of Star Wars or whatnot with it. Heck, I've built my own version of Star Trek for use with it in my archives a few months ago. Very versatile (If enough people ask, I might even upload my Star Trek fan-rules at some point, IDK).
Fate is excellent to read, however, because its an excellent source for ideas for the improvisation end of things- Aspects and the fractal design, as well as FAE's approaches (broad replacements for skills) all simplify things in ways a GM might not've thought of before. If you are looking to learn a new system and some new concepts that'll make you a better player or GM, Fate certainly is worth picking up to learn something from.
I hope that's helpful. More stream of consciousness today, but heck, that might be the right kind of consciousness...