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I was thinking of doing a one-shot Fate game the next time my main group is missing folk. I'd be using the new Fate Core rules. None of us have ever played any version of Fate before, but we're all familiar enough with a variety of systems (from D&D to Fiasco) that I don't think it'll be a big issue.

What I'm concerned about is how to prepare. We get together, they make their PCs, and part of that includes creating lots of story hooks. If I prepare beforehand, it might be harder to work those hooks in. If I show up with nothing prepared, I'd going to fumble around a bit too much, especially given that I haven't run FATE before.

Any tips on running a FATE one-shot? Does the idea of a one-shot even make sense given the system? Are my fears of winging it overblown?

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As its name suggests, fate-accelerated may be a viable choice as well –  Tobias Kienzler Jun 5 '13 at 7:24
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up vote 12 down vote accepted

I have been running my Fate based prototype game in a monthly RPG meetup for well over a year now. By the nature of the event, every game is a one shot, mostly with players of very different levels of RPG experience, who have not played together before.

The hardest part turns out to be the world and character creation phases. It is time consuming, especially for people without experience in Fate or each other. The limited amount of time we get is spent mostly for such things, so we end up with little time to run the actual game.

Pre-generating the world and characters does not work as a solution. It kills the essence of Fate games. Creating your own world is what makes Fate games special.

The solution I found is to start with a half-finished world and characters, and use declarations during the game to fill in the blanks.

If we put this into Fate Core terms (my game is different in a few ways), we start with only a couple of issues, and define only the High Concept and Trouble for the characters, plus their peak skill.

During the game, anyone may fill in any detail on their character sheet, provided they supply a backstory in a couple of sentences. This attempt is subject to compels based on the existing aspects of the character and the world(issues), but not any scene aspects, because it is more like a flashback.

For issues, we take a different approach. If you propose a new issue in game; Rule zero: if everybody likes it, then it is on. If anybody is against it, then we put in a vote (everybody's equal here). The player making the proposition sets the base "skill" at 0. Every other player can choose to give it a +1 or a -1. Then the proposer rolls the dice and adds the "skill". If the result is 0 or higher, then the issue is on. Otherwise, it is forgotten and not brought up again. This result is also subject to invocations of other issues, so players may attempt to influence the roll through the use of their fate points.

This approach has let me run enjoyable games in limited time with inexperienced participants, without losing the ability to let the players make their own world. Hope it helps you as well.

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+1 Nice advice- especially the creation on the run. I would have phrased it the exact same way, and some good advice on that is in SotC and DFRPG. –  wraith808 Feb 10 '13 at 17:53
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@wraith808 it is good to be able to strike your chord every once in a while :) –  edgerunner Feb 20 '13 at 13:52
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One-shots are a great idea to get used to systems. They give you chances to play and experiment with the rules with characters you aren't deeply invested in.

Since you don't have much experience yet, I'd advise creating a layer of preparation that your players can add their story hooks to. That solves one of the biggest problems in FATE character creation - the blank page problem. There are just too many options and no constraints to build off, which can be very dispiriting.

Since you've got the Core rules, you should also have access to the Tower of the Serpents adventure. That's a classic Sword & Sorcery adventure that is designed to help the transition from D&D style games to FATE.

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Consider stealing a familiar setting. One of the big hurdles that you need to overcome when setting up a Fate game is creating shared expectations of what the characters and world are going to be like. By stealing Firefly, Eberron, Star Wars, or LotR, you can bypass a lot of that so that everyone starts on common ground.

From there, you just need to come up with some ingredients that you're pretty sure your characters will come across at some point, and let them go find your bent marshall/crooked dragonmarked house/secret imperial base/orcs invading peacefule lands.

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Heh, I was in fact tentatively planning to use Firefly as a starting point. ;) –  starwed Feb 11 '13 at 16:59
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