I've been considering getting into tabletop for a long time now. Years ago, when I was reading D&D's 3.5 PHB, an older friend advised me that such a system would interfere with the narrative elements that make roleplaying more enjoyable, and that largely, I should seek a system that supports me as a storyteller, rather than one composed mostly of spell tables and other mechanical systems. This genuinely appealed to me - I really value narrative value and creativity in general. He actually gave me a couple of handbooks, FATE Accelerated, and FATE Core.

The thing is, I've been involved in roleplaying in some form for about 8 years now. My modus operandi has been large forum based roleplays. In these environments, I've always felt very comfortable. I've taken pleasure in being able to create characters and develop them over extended periods of time, being able to try things that I want outside of the system and see how people around me react. I've even spent a few years GMing various enviorments and NPC's, and quite enjoyed the world building aspect. However, I also felt very invulnerable from these positions, because I was able to operate under a username. While people have grown to recognize and respect that name, I never had to worry about the things I create being tied to me.

I'm finally in a social environment where several of my friends are interested in trying a RPG. They do not know about my experiences roleplaying online - in fact, nobody I know does. They are drawn immediately to 5e D&D, mostly because of the kitschy nerdy cred that comes with whatever the current edition of Dungeons and Dragons is. This seems to me like it would be a great opportunity to propose FATE and finally get the chance to play it, and generate the rich narratives that appeal to me.

What makes me very nervous is the increased vulnerability that comes with FATE. Here, everything I create and say and think will be associated with me, and I'm afraid people's perceptions of me will be altered by the ways I approach problems and try to come up with interesting ideas. Would a more rules-heavy system do a better job making me feel less vulnerable, as I have the mask of dice and numbers to hide behind? Or should I try to get my friends onboard with a game that I believe would appeal more both to me and them, despite my apprehensions about sharing my creativity in real life?

For some further clarification: What really makes me nervous is the exposure. This is a group of friends I am somewhat close to (my friends who I am closer to would be uninterested in roleplaying in general). What makes me nervous is being exposed and judged, and also feeling vulnerable when undergoing a creative process in a setting like this. I would like to know whether the FATE system is likely to intensify that feeling of vulnerability during roleplay.

Context concerning past experiences My Forum-based experience was with one continuously lasting RP I've been involved with ~8 years, and that has run for 12. When I joined it, it operated in a purely T1 based system, with a small framework for limiting special abilities and equipment as resources. Despite its slow introduction of D20 based source material, the longevity of the roleplay and the scope of the world definitely still leans towards 'if it's reasonable, and there's no system for it, you can do it.' People have notably done things such as have and raise children within the timescale of the forum, and been largely unbounded. In the eight years I definitely have rarely felt stifled by the rules introduced, but the site is also a far cry from being rigidly grounded in a list of possible actions and clear combat scenarios against GM controlled mooks. Further, the remaining T1 elements still give people pretty generous control on describing their environment and assuming things which are likely or possible but not explicitly stated, similar to FATE. On the other hand, attacks and magic powers are more strictly regulated by a list of trained techniques, somewhat similar to D&D sans any rigorous class, race or level-up features.

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    \$\begingroup\$ As this is currently written, I'm not sure we can answer since I'm unclear about what will make you comfortable in a social environment (just online). Can you provide some details about the friends that you want to play with, describe your relationship with them? Also, can you detail a bit on your anxiety and what causes it; for example, my wife does not like crowds at all, some people are very introverted around those they aren't comfortable with, etc. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 3, 2018 at 13:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ In addition to the concerns that @Pyrotechnical has expressed, it seems to me that this question is one that is fundamentally asking for opinions, and I don't see how it could be modified to not be POB. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 3, 2018 at 13:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ Perhaps it would be useful to add, for context, whether the forum games you have participated in have used rules systems, and if so, which ones? It’s also worth noting that FATE too has rules and dice; their application is broader and more interpretive but they are there. So the question is one of degree - which also makes it more subjective. I’m keen to offer advice, as I’m familiar with both systems and issues like the ones you describe, but if it’s more appropriate to do so outside of this question I’m happy for you to contact me directly. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 3, 2018 at 14:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AnxiousFiend you're describing an interpersonal difficulty. Is a game system (FATE, D&D, or any other) really relevant here? \$\endgroup\$
    – enkryptor
    Commented Aug 3, 2018 at 14:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think this question can be answered from experience with a "good subjective" answer. Voting to keep open. \$\endgroup\$
    – Szega
    Commented Aug 3, 2018 at 14:29

1 Answer 1


Fate isn't inherently that different from a lot of systems. You have a bunch of skills, and you have challenges which have a set difficulty, you have enhanced abilities (aspects, stunts) which you can call upon to enhance your powers in a narrow set of situations.

Aspect compels and the fate point economy can involve some negotiation and complicated stuff. It's rather counterintuitive to many to not just play their treasured special character and to have flaws and play them up so that you can be more powerful.

Players often need to feel out their aspects during play to get a good sense of what their characters are like, so for new players and some experienced players, it can work to have some blank aspects or stunts which they fill in when they want to do something awesome relating to some aspect of their personhood. That reduces issues.

Some explanation of troubles helps. Like if a player wants to punch NPCs for being dumb, angry makes a great trouble aspect, or if they want to be a badass hero and save their family from hostage issues a lot. Troubles should be something negative that they enjoy doing, not something to be sad about. These can cause some issues, when people play people with unpleasant troubles like, say, playing a womanizer who harasses women, so make sure any troubles are fun for all.

The idea of shared narrative story telling can also cause some issues, although it's very easy to convert Fate to a traditional storyteller controls most aspects story. Back seat GMs and rules arguments can be a much greater issue when you're expected to all control the story together, especially if one player wants to pull the game in a very different direction from the rest. Limiting this aspect can work well in minimizing interpersonal conflicts.

But yeah, Fate isn't inherently opposed to easy, simple roleplays. You pick some stats, you pick some superpowers, and you have a fun adventure in a cool place. Just keep a close handle on compelling aspects and shared story telling and it's easier.


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