Thursday, August 28, 2014

Fate Worlds: Volume One: Worlds on Fire

With contributions from Jason Morningstar and Filamena Young, both of whom contribute system hacks rather than pure settings this book might be described as the indie take on FATE. However in truth the bulk of the book is made of more conventional settings.

Morningstar's contribution Fight Fire is the one I found most interesting personally. It involves a stripping back of the Fate system to focus on firefighting grounded in the modern world. Characters are described in terms of their abilities to combat fire and also a few personality details. Fire and Smoke are described in game terms rather like monsters and the Fate region-based tactical maps are repurposed here to describe critical locations within burning buildings where the fire must be stopped and people rescued.

The description of building a fire crew and the sample incidents are great but the rules for creating your own fires are sketchy and its not clear what principles, if any underpin the sample fires. The closed setting environment makes the game an interesting prospect for an intense focussed game.

White Picket Witches is Filamena Young's entry and is based on supernatural soap opera TV shows of a kind I don't really watch. It encourages players to act like show writers, runners and directors and think not about what is good for the character they are playing but what makes for a good show. Once again smuggling story game ideas inside more traditional games.

In terms of crunch the game modifies FATE to make location Aspects more significant, allowing the squabbling witches to harness the power in certain locations to boost their own abilities. The locations give a reason for characters to meet and interact, a problem that sometimes plagues games like Monsterhearts that have strong PvP but also work best when all the characters are interacting.

The non-indie darling settings are: Tower of Serpents, Kriegszepplin Valkyrie, Wild Blue and Burn Shift.

Kriegszepplin Valkyrie is a closed campaign setting with the crew of the Valkyrie taking on Professor Schottky and his robotic minions. It's interesting to see a presentation of the short campaign/long scenario format and there is an interesting rules tweak where the robots can copy the character's attributes if they are used on them but the robots have the chance to escape. If the PCs dawdle for too long then the robots will be able to use all their abilities and tricks against them. It's a nice little device for forcing the action and also nods back to Battlestar Galatica.

Wild Blue is a superhero Western which leaves me feeling a little meh. Tower of Serpents is good fantasy action but it has pretty stiff competition from On mighty thews and Swords without Master.

Burn Shift is fantasy post-apocalypse in the style of Gamma World or Metamorphosis Alpha but a community setup that is similar to things like Fallout or Wasteland. It has a lot of rules for mutations but I'm not sure where there is anything mechanically interesting here yet.
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