Like I usually do on all early FATE questions, I have finally gotten a comment on my edition comparison question indicating that FATE is basically the same as Fate Core, just less good in every way, and thus no one should use FATE since Fate Core is strictly better. Specifically, this particular comment says:

Not wishing to be dismissive, but both these versions have been replaced and substantially updated and revised by Fate Core. I would strongly recommend using that in stead of either of these.

Is it true that Fate Core is intended as an update/revision to the FATE mechanics, rather than its own system? Is the focus of Fate Core the same as the focus of FATE (or different, but only because the playstyles focused on in FATE are somehow objectively wrong)? In what ways does Fate Core improve upon the core system goal of FATE-- that is, to have detailed, character-first rpgs-- while also attempting to achieve the system goal of Fate Core-- that is, to have cinematic, narrative-first rpgs? Why am I so frequently told I ought to use Fate Core as a replacement?

  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener like, for example, your answer kinda trips my being annoyed a little cause I put '1st and 2nd ed FATE' in the title, but your answer is definitely about 3rd->Core. But, like, your answer is good and many of the quotes could be repurposed to make some sort of argument that the same's true of 2nd--> Core! It's just not exactly what I meant to be asking about and it annoys me that the focus is so solidly on third, and if I wasn't extra-sensitized to the issue I probably wouldn't be annoyed about it cause it's obvious you could edit it to be applicable without too much work. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 12, 2017 at 6:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Why on earth would you delete your history? Man, I just don't get this site. So much of its processes seem wrongheaded. I'll do what I can. \$\endgroup\$
    – Fred Hicks
    Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 0:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ @FredHicks Thanks for converting to an answer! To address that wonder: comments were introduced to be a way to workshop posts in-place, so they're temporary "post-it notes" by design and weren't meant to usurp the role of answer posts. Consequently they're lightweight and don't hook into our peer-review or notification tools. Sadly, the name "comments" was ill-chosen because it communicates a completely different use. (There's a proposal to rename them, but it's a work in progress.) But again, thanks! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 1:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ In fact they're looking at changing the name of the "add comment" button because of this issue: "We have a section inviting folks to simply "add comment" (definition: respond? gossip? talk?), and yet we yell at them if they do it wrong." \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 7:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, it definitely lends itself to confusion for folks who only really pop over when their google search alert on particular keywords goes ping NOT THAT I KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THAT \$\endgroup\$
    – Fred Hicks
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 3:44

2 Answers 2


It's both: Fate Core is its own system, and it's also one that's an update/revision to the Fate mechanics. In Evil Hat's Fate Core kickstarter, they write:

Today, Evil Hat is proud to bring you Fate Core: the latest evolution of the Fate role-playing game system. Inside you'll find refined, clearer language about every part of the game -- ranging from streamlined language about aspects and skills, to a unified approach for game actions and outcomes, to our trademark, rock solid GM and player advice.

Simply put, Fate Core is the best version of Fate we can possibly make, built upon over a decade of play and design experience by Evil Hat, and with the Fate player community at large, taking the best lessons from all of gaming and distilling them into a cohesive, compelling whole.

Emphasis is theirs.

Fate Core includes a Veteran's Guide section which describes itself as “a guide to the major changes to the system from previous versions like Spirit of the Century and The Dresden Files Roleplaying Game.” The veteran's guide itself also describes Fate Core as “a new version of Fate [developed to] update and streamline the system.”

(The Fate SRD site I linked to is a free and comprehensive reproduction of the Fate Core text, plus enhancements, thanks to the whole of Fate Core being available under CC-BY. It's not a subset of the book text, it's the whole book text.)

Now, whether Fate Core is an improvement to you, and whether it works well for you, is subjective. The authors at Evil Hat believe it's a genuine improvement over earlier editions and that it achieves more effectively the same objectives they were always striving for: in this iteration summarised as being about proactive, competent characters leading dramatic lives. It isn't some tangential unrelated edition and it isn't trying to achieve unrelated goals; it's definitely an update. I'm conscious there's some communication mistakes they made in previous editions they took care to correct in Fate Core, like how a passage in Dresden Files RPG was read by many people as implying that aspects weren't Always True (they are, and they were intended to be).

The old editions are still available and playable though, and they may work better for you or your group. Go ahead and use them; you're not obligated to play Fate Core specifically. Other people may recommend you use Fate Core because they never played older editions or they genuinely think it's a major improvement — I can't really answer what motivated people to say the things they did.

It's worth bearing in mind that right now, true to its name, Fate Core was intended to be the core of new offshoot iterations of the game, such as the pay-what-you-want-including-free Worlds of Adventure for Fate Core. (The Worlds of Adventure are funded via a patreon; anything else on top is just goodwill from buyers.) Games like Atomic Robo RPG (not free) or Masters of Umdaar (one of the Worlds of Adventure) have taken that and run wild with their own improvements which will probably be collected back into a Fate Core 2 at some point. My own group has taken a lot of lessons from all the variants we've played, and either play with one of them as a base, or play with the Core or Accelerated edition modified by what we think will work best. (Accelerated is just a stripped-down simplified version of Core.)

  • \$\begingroup\$ Your answer seems to be mostly comparing SotC-era Fate (i.e. Fate 3) with Fate Core (and does a good job on that count). I was under the impression FATE stopped being a acronym with Fate 3-- this question was supposed to be about comparing pre-SotC FATE with Fate Core, though I might not have been successful in making that clear in the question. Do you have any suggestions on how to edit that? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 12, 2017 at 5:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @thedarkwanderer Maybe edit the question to indicate what you're looking for out of a comparison, and clarify what you consider the eras of Fate 2 and Fate 3 to be? I took your question to be largely more about "is this intended to be an improvement/update/replacement", for which the answer is yes, and "is it actually an offshoot / its own separate not-linearly-related thing" for which the answer is no; it's an update. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 12, 2017 at 17:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ Right, you've shown those things. It was about whether it was intended as an update/etc for early FATE, though, not modern Fate. Like, D&D 3.5 is very clearly an update to 3.0. 3.0 is not really an update to AD&D 2.0, though; it's a completely different game. so 3.5 is intended as an update, but not an update of AD&D. What with Fred Hick's answer, though, it's sort of moot. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 12, 2017 at 21:03

No system is ever objectively better than another system, so frankly the answer to your question no matter what you swap into positions "A" or "B" will be "no". It's 100% subjective 100% of the time.

That said, as the publisher of Fate I have intended for each subsequent edition to supercede the previous, inasmuch as I (and Evil Hat) are publishing our journey of learning and growth within the system we started to derive from Fudge a good 17 or so years ago. In that sense, yeah, it updates, revises, replaces.

That doesn't mean I don't still miss things about 2e-era Fate; I really liked how we handled stress tracks back then, and in the Star Wars Fate Core game I'm running now I've returned to the die-flip method for invokes that went away in 3e.

As always, everything is a toolbox. Pick your tools. Mix and match. Enjoy.


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