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Fate’s Golden Rules

I have a hang up that I wanna run a Fate Condensed game!

We used to play Fate before 5e came out and it never ever worked well for us, it sucked compared to D&D.

The changes in Condensed are tiny, and few, and inconsequential (although I happen to agree with most of them).

What’s changed is the presentation.

Fate Core has these two rules, the Golden and Silver rules:

Decide what you’re trying to accomplish first, then consult the rules to help you do it.
Never let the rules get in the way of what makes narrative sense.

Basically the diegetical layer is what should be driving the rest of the game, not the other way around.

In the original Fate Core text, it seemed to me

The Golden rule is “Decide what you’re trying to accomplish first, then consult the rules to help you do it.” To me, with the old text, that felt like an absolutely punishing way to play.

It seemed to me that, instead, if you have tons of Fate points or tons of Free Invokes stacked up or the perfect aspect on your sheet or in the environment, that starting from there, starting from that symbolic layer, and letting that dictate the diegesis… Let’s say you’ve racked up free invokes on all three of “Wobbling Meal Cart”, “Soaped Up Floor”, “Noisy Room”, of course you’ll look to those invokes when coming up with a plan to take out that “Rival Mobster Restaurant Guest” villain.

The Golden Rule felt disingenious to me in saying that nope, just think “what would my character wanna do in this situation”, to ignore all those resources when making your plan.

As an other example, let’s say you’ve racked up zilch and nada. Being aware of Fate’s rhythms and rules and econ might lead you into start Creating Advantages in order to rack up a bunch of free invokes to help you even those odds for future big swings.

Not only does ignoring the Golden Rule lead to play that’s “better for your character” (higher chance of success), it also lead to pulpier and more action-tastic, Jackie Chan, Star Wars, Batman ‘66 style play.

Conversely, in Fate Condensed, the spirit those two rules do really seem to permeate the rest of the text. It feels like yeah, all those nifty mechanical things that only Fate can do? It’s OK if they take a backseat to the diegesis; play the game like a normal RPG. Maybe it’s not the most “optimal” but it’s straightforward and varied and interesting and it works. Maybe those super “wow, Fate really sings” moments won’t show up as often, but what you gain is a game that can mechanically handle any diegesis naturally.

Gone is any notion of wanting “a good mix” of Compels, Overcomes, Attacks, Create Advantage etc. Instead, if it’s just all boring Overcome for a while, that’s fine, that’s a normal RPG, the “Fate-specific magic features” are patient and humble and can wait for you until they’re actually needed and actually fit in.

To me, this is what makes my reading of Fate Condensed radically different from Fate Core. Again, this isn’t a change between the two games—they’re the same game—just in my understanding of them. I don’t even know that it’s necessarily better; it’s just that it has made me tremendously curious and I really want to try it.