If writing my own game/setting/world (product, for brevity's sake), Should I include the whole Fate Core game in my product, as with Apotheosis Drive X, or should I detail only the modifications to the Fate Core rules, requiring players and GMs to have their own copies of Fate Core, as with Sails Full of Stars?

  • I am not affiliated with Evil Hat, of course.
  • My product uses Fate Core, with some modifications.
  • Most of the product will be source material.

I'm particularly interested in answers from people who've written/published 3rd party Fate product, which strategy they chose, why, and how it worked out.

Edit: Market Notes

  • This game was almost funded on Kickstarter a while back, so I'm aiming to capitalize on that group.
  • I'd really like to promote the game to the Fate community as well.
  • These two groups don't necessarily overlap much, to my knowlege.
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ If your goal is to market to your KS backers, I'd ask them. Send a message to them all and ask what their preference is. There are still a lot of variables to consider, though. Too many, I think, then can safely be discussed over comments. If you like, we could do an email discussion or chat on Twitter/G+. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 19:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Christopher, I've sent out a survey and am getting responses back. That should help me figure out what people think about it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Arcandio
    Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 20:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ Cool beans! Hope it works out for you ^_^ \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 20:38

2 Answers 2


It Depends

If you want it to be a complete, stand-alone game then you should include the full book rules. On the other hand, if you want it to be a supplement then only include the new stuff you're doing.

Add the Entire Core Rules If…

…you want it to be a stand-alone game

If you don't like the idea of "Requires a Copy of Fate Core System to play" being in your game, include the entire rules.

…it's intended to target non-Fate players

Fate gamers already have the core rules—usually several copies of them between the online SRD and the various stand-alone Fate games. If your target audience isn't the entrenched Fate community, including the rules is a good idea so your customers don't need to purchase two books when one will suffice.

…the rules changes are so massive it makes more sense to reprint everything

Some games futz so much with the core rules that listing the changes is almost synonymous with reprinting the core rules. A game that I recently finished writing (still in layout stage) completely removed the contest mechanics and replaced them with a modified contest mechanic and replaced skills with ranked aspects. Because of these major changes, we opted to reprint the rules with the new changes in mind.

…you want a bigger book

Let's face it, sometimes you just want to hold a hefty tome. If your rules tweaks and setting material only cover 32 pages, adding the rules into it will increase the page count by 200+. The physical feeling can be satisfying.

An Evil Hat example: Atomic Robo is a stand-alone game, and thus has the entirety of the rules held within. It's designed to attract the comic fans into trying RPGs.

Exclude the Entire Core Rules If…

…the rules changes are small

Small rules tweaks doesn't require the reprinting of the rules. Just a few pages to note the difference and you're good to go.

…you are targeting the Fate community

Between the core book, Atomic Robo, Bulldogs!, and the SRD, I have more copies of the rules then I need. I don't want them reprinted yet again. And many other Fate gamers are in the same boat.

…you want an affordable/binge purchase price

A higher page count (both physical and digital) means a higher sticker price. Art, layout, proofreading, and all the other expenses besides printing costs are usually based off of page count or word count. Less pages and words means less expense to make them look great on the page/screen. Also, smaller page count means the printing costs are less.

Another Evil Hat Example: The Fate Worlds line from their Patreon. Each setting only has the new rules/tweaks and setting included. The Worlds of Adventure are for the existing Fate community, and therefore don't need the rules reprinted time and again.

How Do You See Your Product?

In the end, there is no "right answer" to your questions. You have to think about how you want to market your product(s), who your target audience is, and how you want it/them to interact with the growing Fate library.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the well-thought-out answer, Christopher. I've updated my question with some more information while I mull over my strategy for the game. \$\endgroup\$
    – Arcandio
    Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 19:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ This answer is an excellent example of an answer that can save a borderline question. I had ultimately decided that the question was good before I read this, but this answer dispelled any doubts I’d had—and easily would have convinced me I had been wrong if I’d fallen on the other side of the fence with the question. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 19:21

One thing folks don't realize about the Fate Accelerated SRD is that — because it's Fate Core, don't get distracted by the funkiness of those approaches, you can replace that part with whatever you think is better if it's not for you — it's a much smaller footprint condensation of the Fate Core system better suited to inclusion in a stand-alone book. Fate Core's SRD is between 80k and 90k words, which in a 6x9 format means you're easily adding mid-200's of pages to your book (if you include all of it). Fate Accelerated's is more like 12k.

So, if you've got a lot of material of your own to add to a Fate rules base, and you want to do stand-alone, my best (but not only) is "no" to "should I include Core?" but "yes" to "should I include parts of Accelerated, thereby including a more condensed version of Core?"

  • \$\begingroup\$ I haven't read up on FAE as much as Core, would that basically mean dropping Skills and the Four Actions, or are the Four Actions available through Approaches as well? I'd need to take that into account when designing the material, I thing. \$\endgroup\$
    – Arcandio
    Commented Mar 18, 2016 at 13:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ The four actions are fundamental to Fate Core — more so than any customized skill list, like the one in Fate Core and like the one in Fate Accelerated. So definitely take the time to read FAE — it's super fast, thanks to the low page count, and I think it may get you the underlying "include the rules" chassis you want, even if you're not particularly enamored of the approaches part (which as I'm implying is just a skill list of a different color). \$\endgroup\$
    – Fred Hicks
    Commented Mar 18, 2016 at 13:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ FAE is literally a streamlined version of Core with a few subtractions that are easy to add back in to taste. For instance, FAE doesn't have rules for full defence actions, but it's literally a sentence to add that back in if you want it in your implementation. It also doesn't have a mechanism for variable numbers of stress boxes, creating advantages in a contest, and a few other bits and bobs that you can leave out or add back in if you think they're really important. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 18, 2016 at 13:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ So, In theory, I could include FAE, with an updated skills/approaches list for a lighter rules set that's still fundamentally Fate, eh? That's pretty slick. \$\endgroup\$
    – Arcandio
    Commented Mar 18, 2016 at 13:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ Exactly that. :) I just wanted to highlight that "Fate Accelerated Minus Approaches" is a pretty great lightweight starting point for a full-rules RPG. :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Fred Hicks
    Commented Mar 18, 2016 at 16:11

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