December 14th, 2013

neutral

The Game of Fate

[personal profile] brushwolf tipped me to the roleplaying game Fate, which is actually a game engine  rather than a specific game.  It has a core system and an accelerated version, both available in hardcopy or ebook formats.  The ebooks are pay what you want. I'm paying in word-of-mouth advertising.  If you just want to read for inspiration, the ebook is fine; if you're going to play the game, a hardcopy is advisable.  The core system is customizable for any genre, and in fact, it's released under Creative Commons so people have made their own versions especially of the earlier editions.  You can find some of that stuff online too.  If you want to create a game for some project of your own, check out the CC options for game engines that might fit, rather than starting from scratch, unless you just like building games.

This came up while we were discussing Polychrome Heroics, a superhero series of mine.  For the parameters of the worldbuilding and characterization, I drew on comics but also on the comic-genre game Truth & Justice, which uses the PDQ engine, so the characters are primarily described by taglines and abilities.  Like Fate, PDQ emphasizes storytelling over complex mechanics.  That makes it good for freestyle or customized gaming.  It's ideal for both novices and experts, because it can be learned quickly yet used very creatively.  However, it's not a great match for people who like playing with lots of different dice or keeping track of meticulous character details.  

Comparing the two engines, use Fate if you want something customizable, although it's got a bit of genre material too; PDQ has more genre-specific versions already customized, which is great if you want to play one of those genres.  Fate also favors two-edged character traits which can work for or against you, whereas PDQ tends toward traits that are either positive or negative.  I like balancing strengths and weaknesses, so I'm particularly attracted to an engine that facilitates playing both out of a single attribute.  I also really like Fate's skill pyramid, where you get a certain number of skills at each level of competence; that's both realistic and playable.  

I'm also just generally intrigued by the similarity between the two engines as storytelling devices.  They're very much like how I run games in my head.  I actually started out by hacking that through AD&D with bits borrowed from elsewhere, which was a hell of a kludge that probably worked only because I can see into other worlds (and so could some of my players).  If I were designing a game, I'd likely aim for something along these lines, a storytelling engine.