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Ian O'Rourke
United Kingdom
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Holy Strands of GURPS'ed Fate
Keywords: Role-Playing Games.

It's a sign of the times that Strands of Fate got in under my radar. I just don't frequent gaming forums as much as I used to and when I do I'm not farming for information in the way I used to either. As a result, I was aware of the phrase Strands of Fate, and that it was some sort of Fate product, but I had no awareness of the goals or the scope of what the creative endeavour was. The amazing thing is, it may actually be the answer to all those people looking for a Fate implementation that becomes a great generic system, but with the power of Fate driving the narrative. How could I miss that? Anyway, onwards.

The most dramatic change as far as I can tell is the dropping of skills. No skills. No skill tree. This is the biggest omission for me as I quite liked the skill tree, as it fits in with my idea of characters having defining characteristics or abilities. The genius scientist, the unflappable butler, the ridiculously rich interstellar merchant prince, whatever. Basically, characters now have 12 abilities spread across Physical, Mental and Social (4 each) and they represent what your character is good at. They are essentially skills and attributes rolled into one. In turn, your abilities are enhanced with a number of speciality aspects as a method of increasing their base value and adding character definition. A character in a horror game might have Agility 3 (High School Cheerleader Captain), for example. There is a bit more to it than I can cover here, but it seems to work well. I like it. You also get the 'normal' Fate aspects as well, but they are the same as in any other game.

One of the key areas that delivers the generic nature of the system is the advantages, split into heroic, expert and power advantages. They basically replace stunts, increasing in scope and power. It's the power advantages that change the nature of the game significantly. Basically, while power advantages provide a way to create a superhero game, that isn't their main advantage. The main advantage is it creates a way to add powers to other games. So, if you creating a game of grand contemporary action fiction and you want your action heroes to come up against psychics, strange robots, an ancient sorcerer from Thule or aliens or whatever you have the rules to model. This is the part that really provides the generic boost to Strands of Fate, as it alters the narrow scaling and absence of systems for powers that often 'limits' other more specific implementations.

Ultimately, what Strands of Fate represents is a GURPS'ed version of Fate. Now, initially this sounds like a bad thing, but it isn't. It's good because it's generic in the sense of GURPS, but drops all of the simulationist stuff in GURPS so what you have is what seems like a very good generic Fate game, with the focus kept on narrative effect. You could also say it's a Fate version of Hero, BESM, Savage Worlds or Cinematic Unisystem. Strands of Fate is really good, and could be used for everything from normal folks investigating horror to superheroes. I'm not 100% sure how it works at the extreme lower and upper end (especially), but that isn't so much a problem (and I may be wrong in my initial scepticism), as it looks like it would work brilliantly at the cinematic to mythical hero sort of level, be it action heroes, mythical fantasy heroes, etc. Essentially the middle of its range.

Now, I've not pulled it a part in detail. Neither have I played it. Despite this, Strands of Fate shows every sign of being the perfect book to pull off the shelf for a myriad of ideas I tend to have across a range of settings and genre types. Hell, any game that has a two-gun packing modern day acquirer of ancient antiquities as an example character wins with me. I'd even go as far to say it's perfect for re-skinning other games. Always like the core idea of Werewolf: The Apocalypse but not all the White Wolf setting, system or the direction of the new games? Just do it with Strands of Fate, gain a narrative core to the system and strap that to your distilled, narrative heart of what Werewolf is about. Want to re-create a 13th Warrior style scenario? Do the same thing. Hell, I'd do a version of Warhammer Fantasy with it since the native systems are invariably dubious.

It's a bit more complicated in some areas, or it always looks it when you see a character fully created, but that may be misleading in actual play. It's certainly worth more experimentation. You know, when I have the time, for the game after Fading Suns, when, you know, life stabilises to let me get around to that. Strands of Fate, noted as a potential gem and filed in the back of my head.

Permalink | Comments(0) | Posted by: Ian O'Rourke on 08/11/2010 Bookmark and Share
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