The Fate System a.k.a. Cooperative Storytelling

It's pretty common knowledge by now that I love Fate. (well, maybe not that I love Fate; people seem to have slotted "enthusiasm" in as Cal's purview lmao.) imo it's the Best Game System Ever, and the reasons why it's the best can be boiled down to one core reason: it's all about telling a story where your characters get to be awesome.

Every single mechanic in the game is there so you can make a better story with it. It's the ideology the whole game is built around and they are absolutely not subtle about it at all, which just makes it even better. I think the part of the system that shows this best is aspects - which, unsurprisingly, are the biggest part of the game. An aspect is basically just "an important thing about your character". It's words. You can't just be like "okay I want high CHA so I can lie and be persuasive better", you have to actually define it. Silver-Tongued Devil or Good First Impressions or something else that actually describes what your character's "charisma" is like.

What I especially like about aspects is that they give everyone - including yourself - story hooks for directions the game can go. If a character has an aspect Friends in High Places representing connections to the upper nobility, then you have an obvious opening for a story arc about upper-level politics, making powerful friends or enemies, etc.

It's kind of funny, actually, but when I'm thinking about Fate I tend to just... forget about skills, because like. Yeah, pretty much every time you roll for something, you're going to be rolling a skill check in some way, but it's way less important what skills you pick than it would be in something like D&D. Because in D&D, you pick skills to be prepared for common challenges, to make sure you'll "win". Even with improvements and streamlinings over time, D&D is still a win/lose kind of game that punishes you for not making the right choices, and most TTRPGs are based on the same concepts.

Fate, on the other hand, has a completely different approach to winning and losing (don't worry I'm still working towards the topic of skills hold on lmao) - or really, success vs. failure, because you can't lose the game. And there's a thing the Core rulebook says, at least once, which is that failure needs to be interesting. Basically, the way Fate is designed, the way its intended to be played, says that the only times you should be doing checks for success vs. failure is if losing will be just as fun as winning. Not better - succeeding at a conflict or challenge is going to make your characters' lives easier every time - but anyone whose written or read a lot knows how much more fun a story is when sometimes things go horribly wrong.

That's Fate!! Fate is letting your characters be awesome and exciting and sometimes have things go wrong in unexpected but still exciting ways. So what this means for picking skills is that you're not supposed to be prepared or anything. You're just defining what kind of things they're good at (which is also why they have the whole Ladder Words system, which I think is great and way better than numbers) and what that tells you and the GM is what kind of challenges to throw at your characters. In other words, you pick skills for a Fate character by thinking "what kinds of things would be the most awesome for my character to do?"

Because ultimately, the GM's job in Fate is to give the players a stage and opportunities for their characters to be awesome. The GM is supposed to look at their PCs best skills and throw stuff at them that lets them show off. The GM is supposed to tune the challenges and conflicts and NPCs and everything to the character concepts their players make so that their players can play out a fun story together.

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