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Me and some friends want to try out Fate Accelerated as a one-shot game (three to four hours) to pass up the time during a hiatus in our larger campaign. However, one of them expressed concern that the system might be poorly suited for single-session games: some mechanics like consequences and refresh come into play mostly during multi-session games.

How much do these and other features of Fate Accelerated hinder using the system for one-shots in practice? What can I do to improve the system's suitability for one-shot gameplay?

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The rules say "yes"

According to the playbook, you might play a single session game:

When you sit down to play Fate, you might just play a single session.

See Fate SRD, The Long Game.

Both FAE and Fate Core have Consequences and Refresh. In a single session game Refresh means number of Fate points for players to start with. Consequences aren't strictly tied to sessions, in the first place they are aspects caused by damage players' characters taken.

Ouch! Damage, Stress, and Consequences said that Moderate consequences clears at the end of the next session, and Severe consequences clears at the end of the scenario, provided it makes sense within the story. So they might last longer in "normal" (not one-shot) game, this doesn't break anything.

If you're the DM, you still should learn Fate Core

FAE is a complete game, allowing players get into as quick as possible. However, it's still built on Fate Core, and assumes the DM is familiar with the system.

From Fred of Evil Hat's Blog:

For the record (again), FAE is Fate Core. It’s got the dials cranked in deliberately different directions than Core’s given defaults

See also

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Absolutely.

You don't need this product, but there is one which was designed to, let's say, "Accelerate" game setup time for a one-shot scenario: It's Not My Fault! Reference & Character Record Cards.

Evil Hat Games has the character-generation part of it online on their site: It's Not My Fault — I don't remember whether the scenario-generation part of it is also present there.

It's Not My Fault is a group of card decks you can use to generate a table full of characters and a plot scenario in bare minutes. There are a stock version and a fantasy version.

I've played many thrilling and satisfying one-shots with INMF, and in fact many of them have been specifically for the purpose of giving players a single-session tryout of Fate in general and Fate Accelerated in particular.

Like I said, you certainly do not need INMF. I answered this way to present it as evidence that one-shot sessions are well supportable in FAE.

It underscores a couple of tools which are commonly useful in setting up one-shots in any system: Pre-generating or at least expediting character creation, and, pre-generating or expediting scenario creation. Get those out of the way in less than five minutes, and spend the remaining session time in full play mode.

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Advancement is not much of the game in Fate.

Many games are intended for campaign play, where you start with a fraction of the power you might eventually aspire to.

In Fate Core and Fate Accelerated, you charge out of the gate as competent, powerful characters capable of making dramatic change in the world. A one-shot is enough to experience very significant parts of the game.

But to address your specific concerns:

Refresh

The aspects of refresh that might come up in Fate Accelerated campaign play are:

  1. Getting more Fate Points than your refresh value, and restricting yourself from spending them to start the next session with more.

  2. Getting more Refresh at major milestones.

  3. Spending Refresh to get additional stunts beyond your free initial three.

That first one is more of a theoretical concern. I have never seen a game where people had anything near their starting number of Fate Points at the end of it.

The second and third are, yes, basically how character development happens in Fate, but you're going to be feeling your character out in your first session, and especially if you use the quick start rules, you're going to have some character-development-like moments along the way. (I'll summarize the quick start rules at the end.)

Consequences

The aspects of consequences that might come up in Fate Accelerated campaign play are:

  1. Taking a lesser consequence than you might be inclined to because consequences stick around for much longer the more Stress they absorb.

...that's it, pretty much.

But the thing is, that's not really a big advantage, because of one thing: consequences are real. When you take a consequence, you have to write down what it means, and the more severe a consequence is, the more it impacts you. It's basically a negative Aspect, and enemies get a free hit on it.

So, like, the only scenario where it really matters is if you're about ready to wrap for the session anyway and you take a bigger consequence that nobody's going to even take advantage of.

Quick Start

The quick start rules are linked at the Fate SRD here. For Fate Accelerated you can use them mostly as written, but a couple of things will need to change.

  • instead of picking your best skill, pick your high (+3) and low (+0) approaches. Fill in the middles as you like during play. Ideally everyone should wind up with different strengths and weaknesses from one another.
  • you start with three Fate Points and can get up to three Stunts for free, without spending anything. Probably cap there for the first session.

In that way you can spend as much of the single session as possible playing the game, essentially doing character creation under yourself as you go.

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