Fate: Core System Review

Real Talk By: Haggy

The RPG landscape has always been attractive to people who are into gaming.  Whether they are more of a casual player, or way into it, most gamers have at least considered, or even tried a Role Playing Game.  I’m not, however, talking about RPGs like Skyrim and one of it’s many re-releases, but in fact games like Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, Star Wars: Edge of the Empire.  Table top role playing games that give players a ridiculous freedom of action and honing the characters they play.

The very nature of this type of play is immensely attractive to any group of friends that want to let their imaginations run a bit wild while they go on fantastic adventures, and create the ultimate heroines and heroes of their story.  However, there is a caveat to all this freedom and epicness…. Rules.  Most RPGs range from mildly complicated like the aforementioned Edge of the Empire, to you might as well be doing calculus like Fallout: PnP.  There have been a few that have attempted to simplify an RPG system.  Games like Heroquest, Fiasco, and Dread were designed either to make the gameplay easier to understand, or shift the rules and make Proper Roleplay.


Those games are quite fun indeed, but Heroquest takes away some of the strength of story, and Fiasco and Dread can easily fall apart and break if the story isn’t properly set up or the players are a bit nervous to role play.  Tragically, there hasn’t really been any entry level RPGs that can get people’s attention and still be easy enough to pick up quickly.  However, Evil Hat Productions and a team of game designers believe that they might have made something that can fix this issue, the Fate Core System.

The Fate Core System is many things, and the first of it’s many parts is that it’s versatile.  Like GURPS, or some of the Dungeons and Dragons Systems, it is designed to be applicable to many settings.  However, Fate takes it to another level as it makes it easy to create skills and abilities based off of any, and I mean any setting.  Included, however, are rules and guidelines on making your own universe.  No matter how zany and fun, to dark and serious it is.


Next, Fate introduces player involvement in the plot almost immediately.  As character creation helps build the world the story takes place, and also encourages players to have histories with each other with epic adventures in the past.  Past history with each other, and a storyline literally tailored to the character means Roleplay comes a bit easier, and accessible to even the newest of players.  However, if there are any downsides, it’s that you’ll need to keep focused and have strong ideas for characters, otherwise the game will get bogged down here.

Before you begin though, it would then come time to pick the skills your character has.  Fate does this brilliantly as a pool of skills is shown between everyone, with some being added based off the world you’re in and you simply pick and choose which ones you’d like to have your bonuses in.  I’ll explain how easy the rolling is with these bonuses later, but you also make your own special abilities based off of your character’s history and abilities.  For example:

“Dead Eye” Dayrl squared up to the three bandits on the road before him.  They had demanded a toll and soon the four men were slowly reaching for their revolvers at their hips.  As guns were about to be pulled, the player for Dayrl spent a fate point to activate “Impossible Shot” to give him a boost on this check.  After the roll, the bandits were the first to draw, but Dayrl was the first to shoot, spending three shots of his six shooter to hit the guns out of their hands… and then the next three shots to shoot the guns away from them after they were out of the hands.  All before his Cigar touched the ground.


Impossible Shot was a stunt, or a special ability, agreed by the GM and the player that Dayrl, being a cowboy bad ass would have.  But how did he make his rolls?  Well, here comes the other reason why fate is amazingly simple.  Whenever a character is asked to make a skill check, they roll four dice.  Each die can only show a “-” or ” ” or “+”.  For every + you add 1 to your result, for every – you subtract 1.  Then, if it’s a skill you actually gave yourself at start up (Or later on having discovered it should be something your character is good at) that skill will have a +1, to a +4 and that’s added to your roll result.  That is literally the most complicated part of this game, and it’s just basic addition and subtraction as all skills are performed better with a more positive roll.

So it’s easy to get into, fun to play and make a world together with your friends, and the level of difficulty is minimal.  And, for the more advance players, there is plenty of opportunity to make things more intensive for you as the GM and players not only made special abilities but brand spanking new rules together like the following:

Tical is a Shadow Dancer who has their abilities get powered by collecting souls.  With this in mind, the GM agreed and even gave them a new aspect to their character called “The Soul Pool”  Which essentially functioned as a counter that showed how many souls he had to perform some of his most powerful abilities, which now cost harvested souls to function.  All of this was player made content.


The last aspect (Hah, fate joke) to go over is the cost of all this wonder.  Truthfully, this part is the main reason I wanted to cover fate as it needs exposure.  You can buy the book for about $20-$25, and the Dice are about $16….. HOWEVER they offer the PDF of every rule they have online for free and even offer you to pay with tips for their efforts as they really just want the game to get out there, and if you have a couple of six sided die lying around, you can easily simply use those instead of going out to buy some.  This is an RPG where you can test it out and enjoy it in it’s entirely before buying or tipping anything!

In Conclusion, The Fate Core System is one of the best RPG concepts I’ve seen in years.  It’s extremely simple to learn, It promotes good Role Playing, It’s fun to make up your world and to play out your adventures, and with such a good Samaritan business model in place, I can’t help but praise it.  Play this game if you can!


Fate Core System Gets


5 out of 5


What’s Legit?

+ The Game Is Simple and Fun to Play

+Fate Encourages Roleplay and Player Involvement Perfectly

+The System Can Be Used in ANY Setting, Even Made Up Ones

+You Can Play This Game For Free, and The Developers Only Ask For Tips if You Thought it Was Fun

What’s Perpetrating?

-Any Lack of Imaginations Can Bog Down Game Creation

-The Game System Requires Focus on Creating Worlds


Head to https://fate-srd.com/ if you want access to the rules!

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