Pros: Fills in gaps for FATE mechanics, inexpensive PDF, lots of content
Cons: Poor-quality writing, guy-oriented, heavy on SF theme
I bought Strands of FATE because I’m working on a Spirit of the Century campaign and I had some questions that weren’t covered in the SotC rulebook. I was glad to see that Strands of FATE includes ideas for the NPC fate point pool, called shots, and assisting another, all of which are MIA in the SotC rulebook. So Strands of FATE has been useful, and since the PDF is $9.99, I can’t complain about the price.
However, unlike the very enjoyable SotC rulebook, Strands of FATE isn’t a book I’ll go back and read for the fun of it. I’m sure the author and editors did their best, but the writing is pretty bad. A couple examples: “…try to consider […] how you could make the players’ misfortunes into something that keep the session’s energy up and holds the player’s interest.” “Players want their characters to feel cool or heroic, and if tripping over a bush stops them from getting to their friend in time to help him, he is only going to feel frustration.” (The friend is going to feel frustration?) For $9.99 maybe I shouldn’t expect too much… but still, the typos and weird syntax make reading Strands of FATE a total slog for me. (Best typo: “Monthly Heroine Shipment from South America.”)
Also, Strands of FATE is very guy-oriented, which is a vibe I’ve never gotten from SotC (despite its being set in the 1920s!). Unlike SotC and Dresden Files, which refer to the GM as “she,” Strands of FATE refers to the GM as “he.” And the players are also “he.” And a two-person tent is a “two-man tent.” And non-human races include “cat-man” and “dragon-man.” And Chapter 1 starts out, “Telling stories is a tradition we’ve shared since the earliest men learned to talk.”
To add to that, the female characters and NPCs are all SEXY!!! Isabella Montayn: “Absolutely Stunning.” Gabriella Cross: “Rude and Crude, but Sexy Enough to get Away with it.” Lily White: “Absolutely Gorgeous ‘Girl-Next-Door’.” What is this, Maxim? Does every female character have to be SEXY!!!? At least sex up the male characters too! Jacob Lawson: “Pouty Pretty-Boy with Abs of Steel!” Raniel the Earth Scorcher: “Burly Grizzly Bear… who Harbors a Scorching Passion!” Joking aside, Strands of FATE sends a message of “Hey female reader: You are not the target audience for this book.” It’s disappointing that Strands of FATE doesn’t follow in FATE’s footsteps in terms of trying to bring more women into gaming.
Lastly, while there is a LOT of content in this PDF (~490 pages), it feels like the SF elements got more love than the bits from other genres. Which is great if you’re running FATE for an SF campaign, but I’m not.
So overall an OK purchase, especially for the price, but not great.