If it’s not obvious yet, I’m something of a Fate Core fanboy at the moment. It’s such a streamlined system that focuses on the narrative of roleplaying rather than the mechanical crunch. And as a storyteller, that’s something I can get behind.
Recently, I’ve discovered how much influence Fate has had on other games, even games I played long before I discovered Fate and it’s myriad of implementations. This influence almost always has to do with aspect-like traits and the game in question’s resource economy.
It’s been mentioned to me that Fate’s aspects were inspired, in part or in total (I wasn’t there, so I can’t speak with authority on this), by Alderac Entertainment’s 7th Sea, which makes sense, given how Arcana and Hubris work so closely to the invocation and compel mechanics of aspects. Again, I wasn’t there, but I would assume that whatever mechanic inspired Nature and Demeanor for World of Darkness games also had a hand in the inspiration, as their Willpower mechanic is similar to fate points.
Obscure origins that I can’t speak to notwithstanding, it is clear where Fate’s aspects have influenced more recent games. Below are some examples (not all, as there are too many to list here) of games that use some version of Fate’s aspect mechanic in their design.
- Green Ronin’s Mutants and Masterminds uses hero points as currency for awesomeness. Just like fate points, they are used to enhance rolls and edit scene details, in addition to other effects specific to their game’s design. In their third edition (or DC Adventures, depending on the version you have), they also use Complications, which are like aspects that can only be compelled to earn more hero points. M&M used to be my go-to game for all things roleplaying, and the system works fantastically!
- True 20, also a Green Ronin game, used conviction points that functioned identically to hero points, and a virtue/vice system to compel the character to gain more conviction. True 20 even included a refresh mechanic and tied it to Charisma (if I’m not mistaken), giving that ability some rare utility not seen in other games.
- Technoir, by Jeremy Keller, uses dice (called “push dice”) in place of a point-based economy. Positive adjectives can be “tagged” with push dice to add to the narrative and improve the chances of rolling better. Negative adjectives are always tagged, giving penalties in the form of “hurt dice” on all the character’s actions. Adjectives stick around for varying lengths of time, and can be increased by spending your push dice on them.
- Probably the most obvious, and potentially best, Fate-influenced product is the Margaret Weis Productions’s Cortex+ system, specifically Marvel Heroic Roleplaying. Aspects in typical Fate games have always been a little hard to grok due to their completely narrative (and mostly unlimited) nature. MHR brilliantly divides the uses of aspects among the various traits within the system. Distinctions, the closest thing to traditional aspects, add a bit of narrative to every action (both positive and negative); plot points allow the basic uses of fate points; stunts and resources are essentially invocations that are tied to skills and powers (making nearly everything on the sheet and aspect!); and assets and complications fulfill the function of the various maneuvers that Fate Core wrapped into their Create an Advantage action; and SFX ever so awesomely stand in for stunts. The game may be a little hard to grasp at first due to how completely original and seemingly complicated the game design is, but once you get it, you’ve got a great game on your hands.
As I said, that is not every game to have been influenced by Fate mechanics, and I’m sure Fate has its own influences that I haven’t mentioned. The cool part of this is how the game industry, unlike any other industry I’ve been a part of, is willing to let others use parts of their product to enhance another commercial product, usually without any monetary exchange and almost always with encouragement!
I think this willingness for collaboration is what has made elements of Fate, and many other games’s mechanics (I’m obviously hyper-focusing on a single game here), mainstream in the industry. Personally, I look forward to seeing what new developers make of aspect uses.
(If I have misrepresented your game, please let me know and I’ll correct it.)