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Strands of Fate
Publisher: Void Star Games
by Tom M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/26/2010 12:14:14

If this game had aspects they would be “scalable”, “multi-genre support”, “well-written”, “mulitfaceted”, “extensible” and most of all “comprehensive”

I've been reading this after buying the PDF about 3 days ago.

A little background - I've been looking for a system to run a Mage the Ascension style game that doesn't require constant creation of power lists for the spheres, and bending your mind to fit poorly devised metaphysics that make sense for mystics but not technological characters. I think I found it.

This year I purchased Spirit of the Century, and really enjoyed their innovative system. It has a lot of great ideas, but it was kind of a first run of the FATE system. It can be a little jargony, and it is meant to run pickup games, which is fine, but I think people might have problems developing it into a long-term campaign, or adapting it to other genres (to be fair, it wasn’t designed for this).

This product reminds me of when the Spycraft people took the d20 engine, rebuilt it for their own purposes into what I would argue was a better system.

Strands of Fate has taken the FATE system, stripped it down a bit, then rebuilt it to make more sense, with solider (though easy to use) rules. I am particularly impressed on how they use the “Fate Fractal” (the idea that as characters have properties, so do large organizations, starships, etc) to model characters, combat units, organizations, vehicles, hideouts, cities; you name it. They didn’t phone this in - they have specific (though elegant) rules for these different entities, and list properties for vehicles that allow you to model a mule with a cart to battling FTL starships with great ease.

The game allows you to create your campaign quite easily at different power and tech levels. The large page count might suggest to some people that it is a monsterously complex game. This is NOT true - it’s quite streamlined. Those pages belong to a lot of explanations of advantages, examples of combat (and a nice job on modeling mental and social conflicts, both with examples). It is impressive how each rule set has been made to follow similar mechanics, but can be added or removed from campaigns as needed. After all, cowboys don’t need rules for spaceships. Unless you always dreamed of that Silverhawks campaign, which this system would let you do.

They also give you some advice on constructing your own advantages, obviously they can’t create every superpower/kung-fu/western/victorian horror advantage ever, but definitely took a stab at it, and in a very intelligent way. For my Mage-like game I have the option of creating a technomancer that just has a power list he activates, OR has the ability to warp reality where he rolls against a target, OR uses rituals to cast. I also have the option of buying down any of these powers cost with weaknesses (like “requires internet access to cast”).

Creating my first character was quite easy, I came up with my concept, spent a number of points dictated by the desired campaign power level, picked a few appropriate advantages and was pretty much done. I think I spent more time kicking around cool names for aspects than working on system dictated characteristics. Character generation is fast, easy - perfect for people new to RPG’s, con games, and introducing people to the rules.

The only things I noticed about the product were a few minor spelling errors, and if you aren’t into a narrative-based system, you might not like the FATE system in general. The rules are slightly more crunchy than Spirit of the Century, but ultimately they drive to a FATE-point, call on the aspect to gain advantage or disadvantage model. I can’t really envision a day when FATE is as strategic as D&D 4e for example, but that’s kind of the point. So, if you enjoy strategic wargaming, this might not be for you. This creates stories you might see in a film or book, but in doing so leaves the big maps and hardcore strategy bits behind (which is not to say it is an unstructured system). I also thought the character sheet could use a little refinement - but that is a fairly minor quibble coming from a graphic designer.

I would give this my strongest possible recommendation for someone that wanted to get into the FATE system with the ability to play any genre. This is likely the only book you would need to run a long-lasting and varied game. I had never heard of Void Star before this product, and tend to be pretty stingy with my gaming dollar, but will be ordering this off Lulu soon-they really did a professional intelligent job on this product. Well done!

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Strands of Fate
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