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Fate Accelerated Edition
Publisher: Evil Hat Productions, LLC
by Christopher D C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/13/2014 15:05:39

FATE Accelerated Edition, or FAE, is a good introduction to Evil Hat's FATE game engine. While it's different enough from FATE Core to be a stand-alone RPG in its own right, FATE Accelerated is similar enough to its parent so that once you feel you're ready to tackle the more advanced mechanics of FATE Core, you should be able to make the transition with little effort.

FAE is extremely liberating from other RPGs, in that there are no Character Points to spend, no endless lists of skills, powers, talents, traits, or extras to choose from, no defects/disadvantages/flaws to burden your hero or heroine with just for the sake of balancing out a character's point totals. Character creation is simple and easy: you choose a "high concept" (a phrase that sums up your character's role in the game setting), a "trouble" (another phrase that identifies a primary weakness of the character), and one to three other "aspects" (additional concepts that help round out the character's background). You then set six "approach ratings," which represent how your character deals with various challenges (Cleverly, Sneakily, Forcefully, and so on). If desired, you can choose anywhere from one to three "stunts" (things your character can do extremely well). In a matter of minutes, you have a fully defined character with a general suite of abilities which have been established by his or her approach ratings, high concept, trouble, and other aspects. All without the numbers crunch you have to deal with from other RPG systems.

The task resolution system follows the general path of "roll-high-and-hit-a-Target-Number," only in FAE, you roll four Fudge/Fate dice and apply the result to whatever approach rating you're using for a particular task. Having an appropriate stunt can improve your chance of success, as can the expenditure of Fate Points. If you're trying to accomplish something that fits your character's high concept (or other aspects), you can spend a Fate Point, which either gives you a bonus to your roll or allows you to roll again (this second option is best if you initial roll was very poor). You gain Fate Points during the game by accepting "compels," which is when your character's adversaries find a way to use your trouble (or even your other aspects) against you; if you give in to your weaknesses, you're rewarded with a Fate Point, which is a great way to encourage good roleplaying.

Combat is quick and easy to run. Instead of worrying about how much damage this weapon does against that sort of armor, everything is resolved with a single pair of attack/defense rolls; the greater the attacker's margin of success (or "shifts"), the more damage done to the target. A target can stave off defeat by checking off stress boxes or accepting "consequences" (penalties which give the attacker additional weaknesses to exploit); when the target can take no more stress or consequences, he or she is at the mercy of their attacker. A neat option allows a would-be victim to escape this fate by voluntarily conceding the fight before the coup-de-grace is actually delivered, allowing them to exit the scene with at least a modicum of dignity--and they also get a Fate Point for doing so.

Overall, the system is very free-form, with all kinds of room for innovation by both the players and the gamemaster. This is arguably the most cooperative RPG system ever created: everyone works together to weave an exciting narrative, using aspects, troubles, and the like to take an adventure in all kinds of unexpected and enjoyable directions. This can be a bit daunting for gamers who are used to more rigid systems, but once you get into the spirit of the thing, you'll find yourself having more fun than you could have imagined.

FATE Accelerated Edition is a terrific game, and definitely worth checking out. The list price for the published edition is $5.00; I recommend paying something in that neighborhood for the electronic edition, as it's well worth it!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fate Accelerated Edition
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BESM (Big Eyes, Small Mouth) 3rd Edition
Publisher: White Wolf
by Christopher D C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/28/2013 22:19:12

BIG EYES, SMALL MOUTH 3rd Edition (or BESM 3e) is sadly the final bow for the Tri-Stat System, as Guardians Of Order went out of business in 2006 and White Wolf/Arthaus has declined to continue supporting the Tri-Stat line (for both legal and financial reasons). This is truly a pity, as BESM 3e is one of the best multi-genre RPGs ever published and is a fitting capstone to the Tri-Stat Era. It has just about everything a gamer could ask for: an easy to learn rules system, character creation options that allow you to build any sort of hero or heroine you can think of (and I do mean ANY sort, the rules allow you that much flexibility), fast-as-lightning combat rules, an extensive section on equipment, helpful hints for Game Masters, and even a "multi-verse" campaign setting. There are also options that allow you to play a stripped down, "Basic" version of BESM 3e to make the game even more versitile, and there's even a "Take 6" variant that lets you play the game without using dice at all!

Only a few small quibbles keep this from being a full 5-star review. As other reviewers have mentioned, the Dynamic Powers Attribute is very poorly defined here; I suspect this was a problem with the editing, as previous editions of BESM and Tri-Stat dX have made it far clearer what a character can do with Dynamic Powers (for example, Tri-Stat dX states a character may use Dynamic Powers to simulate a number of Attribute Levels equal to twice the level in Dynamic Powers, with the restriction that no one simulated Attribute may have a Level higher than the original Dynamic Powers Level). Only one sample character is provided; a few more examples would have been helpful, especially ones for NPCs with lower point values. And for long-time players of BESM 1e and 2e, they have to rework every character/equipment sheet they've created, as the changes in 3e make it completely incompatible with all earlier Tri-Stat products.

But all in all, BESM 3e is a master work, and well deserving of a place in your RPG library. The demise of the Tri-Stat System is a sad thing, but it certainly went out on a high note with BIG EYES, SMALL MOUTH 3rd Edition. And if you're not really a fan of Japanese animation, don't let that keep you away from BESM 3e: you can, after all, do ANYTHING you want with the rules....



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
BESM (Big Eyes, Small Mouth) 3rd Edition
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Discovery (PDF edition)
Publisher: New Frontier Games
by Christopher D C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/28/2013 21:45:35

There's a really good story in DISCOVERY, but it seems it was rushed to press far too soon. It reads very much like a first draft; the characters are little more than ciphers, the dialogue is very weak, and the action sequences aren't very well fleshed out. The basic premise is terrific: a military patrol ship vanishes during a routine testing of an experimental force shield, and a second ship is dispatched to recreate the "accident," which may hold the long-sought-after secret to Faster-Than-Light travel. Had Tom Stephens been given the time (or taken the time, one or the other) to more fully develop the story and the main characters, the tale no doubt have been much better. As it stands, however, DISCOVERY is best recommended to those who are interested in what a potentially thrilling novella looks like in its earliest stages, before the editing/embellishing process is seen through to completion.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Discovery (PDF edition)
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