As is the nature of any open system, Fate has grown a number of branches over the years. Honestly, not even I have managed to keep track of them all. I’d like to change that, at least a little, and make sure we catalog them reasonably well here at the site.
I’m starting with this post, which is an off the top of my head accounting of the Fate variants I’m aware of. I am going to omit at least one, I’m sure, and my advance apologies for that.
What I need from you is to “check my work” on this. Tell me about the variants I’ve missed. Help me understand if I’m describing these variants incorrectly, incompletely, or unfairly (within the limits of trying to write these up as 1 to 3 sentence accounts).
Once I feel like the conversation’s gone far enough to get this post’s info finalized (I’ll try to update it as I get comments), I’ll turn it into a more permanent page on the site.
Core Fate (also called Fate 3) – This is the name I use for the main trunk of Fate, the version(s) produced by Evil Hat. While this doesn’t mean that Core Fate is standing still — our own understanding and expression of it evolves over time — it is what we’ll be presenting on this site, and using at the core of any Fate products we produce. Inasmuch as there is an “official” Fate, this is it. Implementations: Spirit of the Century, the Dresden Files RPG.
VSCA Fate – This is Fate as extended by the VSCA crew to create Diaspora. VSCA Fate lives pretty close to Core Fate, though it adds a number of modules (various modes of conflict resolution for different kinds of conflicts) and some concepts (aspect scopes, etc) that I personally quite enjoy. It’s possible that we’ll borrow some of those concepts and bring them back to Core Fate, but I still think there’ll be enough distinctiveness in VSCA’s work to consider it as a slightly separate thing. Implementations: Diaspora.
Cubicle 7 Fate – Cubicle 7’s Fate implementation started from an almost complete absorption of the Spirit of the Century SRD when they put together Starblazer Adventures. There, they also adapted into Fate 3 some concepts that Evil Hat had been talking about during the Fate 2 years, manifesting as the organizations system and the idea of plot stress. Their focus is more on d6-d6 as the dice method, and they’ve added a number of fiddly bits in the implementation of stunt and powers that resembles some of what Evil Hat has done, while being its own thing. C7 Fate and Core Fate can probably cross-pollenate mostly successfully, though as each implementation grows over time I suspect the two flavors will become more distinct. They each certainly come from a different aesthetic, I think, in terms of their design approaches, though at the moment that’s a little hard to quantify. Implementations: Starblazer Adventures, Legends of Anglerre.
Awesome Fate – Awesome Adventures is Willow Palacek’s effort to pare back Fate to a very lightweight engine, cutting away whole pieces of it, even stuff you might consider essential to the Fate chassis. This is definitely its own beast, but probably a good fit for folks who want to play Fate, but use a version that lives somewhere between Risus and PDQ in terms of simplicity. I’m pleased to see (by looking at the link) that since its original publication it has gotten some improved production values (one of the primary strikes against it when it initially showed up). Implementations: Awesome Adventures.
Strands of Fate – Strands of Fate is an implementation of Fate created by Void Star publishing. Where Awesome Adventures is an effort to pare Fate down to a leaner thing, Strands goes in the other direction, looking to create a “generic” build of the system that speaks to a more traditionally-minded perspective on RPGs. I’ve heard people quip that it’s “Fate+GURPS”, which is a solid enough description if you’re talking at the level mash-up hollywood movie-pitch dialect, but may sell this thing a bit short. I’ve also heard people express confusion about whether or not Strands is “the” Fate 3.0 book they need, and no, it’s not. I’ve talked with the guy who wrote Strands, and we both agree that it is its own branch, distinct and separate, a deliberate effort to take Fate’s concepts and make them more palatable to folks who find Spirit of the Century to be too “out there”. Implementations: Strands of Fate.
Fate Inspired (a.k.a., Not Fate At All) – I’ve seen people characterize both Houses of the Blooded and ICONS as Fate games. They are both certainly, explicitly Fate-inspired, though, borrowing several concepts from Fate and attaching them to their own original systems. This is fantastic (and you should grab yourself copies of both), but I think it really muddies the waters considerably when folks talk about them as Fate implementations. They are not. EDIT: The excellent Chronica Feudalis belongs in this camp as well.
That’s what I’ve got so far, but I’m very sure I’m missing a few (particularly ones that aren’t for sale). So help me out — what’d I miss? And what more should be said about the above?
Additions from the commenters
One of the things that’s interesting as we’ve been getting comments here and elsewhere is the question of whether some of the missing pieces are “merely” homebrews or are bona fide branches in their own right. In this getting-edited-as-comments-are-made section, I’m choosing not to make a distinction between those two things. That said, in my mind, something grows from a “leaf” into a branch through adoption by players and publishers.
- Free Fate – The name given by R. Grant Erswell to his condensed combination of the Spirit of the Century and Starblazer Adventures rulesets. Downloadable in PDF form.
- Fate Basics – This is a pamphlet-sized download going over the basics of Fate as told by Michael Moceri and laid out by Brad Murray of VSCA. Worth a look.
- Tom’s Spirits – Tom Miskey writes: “Well, there is my own Spirits of Steam and Sorcery and Spirits of Chrome and Cyberspace, both of which are free online (at the FATE yahoo site and through google docs: here and here). They are 100% compatible with each other, and both are based on the SotC rules but with a few changes and several major modifications, including rules for non-human races, weapons and armor affecting damage, and most importantly, a full magic system. Cubicle 7 liked what they saw, so they hired me to help write the Legends of Anglerre magic system and races, in large part adapting the rules in SoS&S. They ended up changing what I had written somewhat for the final draft, but you can still see the seed of where they came from fairly clearly.”
- Wheel of Fate – This is a Fate-inspired homebrew mash-up from Rob Donoghue (at least as I see it — he may correct me) that I believe can be found in the files area of the FateRPG Yahoo Group.
- Death of the Vele – Bill Burdick’s hack on the Fate engine. Whether his work has rendered a Fate variant or a Fate-like game is an exercise left to the reader!
So, Evil Hat is limited in what it can do at any one time, but over the years we’ve been gifted with an incredible resource — our fans — who have, time and again, come through for us in terms of getting the word out, providing ad-hoc support of our products, acting as a distributed grass-roots customer service and sales force, and so on. Heck, the reason there’s an SRD of Spirit of the Century that has been acting as our Fate 3 SRD for the past several years is because some fans stepped up and created the document(s) for us.
We couldn’t be more pleased about this, but it’s also humbling to realize there are so many folks out there willing to jump up and help us out whenever we ask for it. It’s that realization that keeps us from making constant requests of our fans. (A good thing, too — if we pushed out too much “signal” through our fans, the general public would tire of it, and eventually our fans would too.)
All the same, we need your help today.
We want to make some parts of the Dresden Files RPG available under the OGL, but we simply have had no time or resources to do the work, there (more on what that work is in a moment). So we thought: why not see if we can “crowdsource” this one? Toward that end, we’re looking for some volunteers to help do that — and as thanks we’ll dole out some free stuff to the people who step up.
That said, there’s definitely some pain-in-the-ass elements to the process. Here’s what would need to be done by a volunteer squad:
- Siphon the text out of the PDF via copy & paste (thankfully our PDFs do not restrict this!)
- Reformat the text as a RTF file, with no line breaks in the middle of paragraphs and any spacing or spelling issues introduced by the copy & paste process cleaned up. Bonus points if you do any boldfacing or italicizing that was shown in the original form.
- Strip out ALL references to the Dresden Files intellectual property, either replacing with generic stand-ins or simply excising sections of text that aren’t crucial to the understanding of the text (here, it’s usually fine to just delete examples outright, but in other cases there will be references to the DF series woven into the text that needs a more surgical extraction and replacement).
- Provide the resulting RTF to us for editing & acceptance. If it makes it through that process to our satisfaction, you get free stuff!
We have some specific sections we want to turn into independently available OGL content; we aren’t intending to open up all the content in the game just now, though this is not necessarily where we’ll be stopping, either. Here’s what we’re looking at:
- The Basics (YS16-22) [[Edward]]
- City Creation (YS24-50) – This is a long thing, and moreover may need to be genericized to something like “Setting Creation”, but for starters we just need the stripped-down-and-sanitized-according-to-the-above-process take on it [[Daniel]]
- Advancement (YS88-96) [[Mick]]
- Aspects (YS98-116) [[Tom]]
- Mortal Stunts, specifically Stunt Creation (YS146-149 stopping before the examples), with the “mortal” adjective stripped off wherever it occurs [[Edward]]
EDIT: YOWZA! Volunteers for everything already!
To be clear, this post doesn’t mean we’re saying that the above stuff as-is is already open content. It’s not, but we’d like to produce a new version of each of them so that it can be.
So here’s what I’d like to see: folks volunteering in the comments, explicitly, so we don’t end up with four folks all doing the same block of work. Please don’t volunteer unless you’re able to take on whatever you’re volunteering for fairly immediately, so we don’t end up with someone proclaiming they’ll work on a section and then nothing coming of it for weeks. It’s absolutely fine for you to split your work up with other volunteers, however (e.g., maybe someone wants to take on the first ten pages of City Creation, if someone else is willing to take on the rest).
So how about it? Are you able and willing to step up? Tell us!