More actual play of the FATE Core silly Bravestarr rip-off I ran earlier this year. Contains spoilers for nothing, because I'm not sure you can even do spoilers in FATE.
This episode, we talk even more about FATE Core and how we think the game went.Episode 4
Unfortunately, due to lateness of the hour, our post-game chat here was curtailed before we had the necessary three hours or so to really thrash out our views, via talking about Warhammer a lot, and propose four alternative versions that would be essentially entirely different games, as we are wont to do. So it's a mere hour.
The game rather shook my optimistic view as I discovered that my initial difficulty getting my head around some concepts hadn't, as I thought, melted away with reading. Although I broadly had the concepts down, I continually struggled to GM the thing, as I found it very difficult to work out how to apply the mechanics. As Dan suggests somewhere or other, FATE is trying to be a game about story, but does this by having mechanics that act on mechanics. This does make the mechanics a flexible and abstract thing that aren't constrained by direct interaction with the game fiction, allowing you to skin outcomes how you want; on the downside it means that determining what happens in the fiction based on a roll, or deciding what mechanics to use for a particular in-game happening, is not simple.
As I found regularly running the game, the disconnect between what was happening in the narrative and the mechanical support was one I found very unintuitive. As Dan has pointed out to me, I'm fairly inclined towards quite world-simulatey systems where consequences flow fairly naturally from actions and the mechanics simply determine how they work out, because I tend to find abstractions more difficult to get my head round.
Alternatively I think systems that are even more abstract and stripped down, with just a few abilities that work by handwavium and interpretation, can work for me. FATE for me fell in an awkward middle ground, where anything you do has to be modified by an abstract intermediate layer based on your intention in performing an action. Similarly, evaluating what kind of roll-off I should call for (Contest, Conflict, C-something-else, one die roll) felt like an additional complication in resolving events.
I enjoyed the game, but I didn't particularly enjoy running it because I felt incompetent with the mechanics and this was very obviously slowing down the gameplay. I could have overcome this somewhat by handwaving things but that sort of ruins the point of a playtest. Having had time to mull things over and listen back to this recording, I could probably run a better game next time, but the easiest way to do that seems to be for the GM to take back a lot of the work that's assumed to be done by players, like having them decide the result of a roll rather than players picking an objective beforehand. Are they creating an advantage or making an attack? Unfortunately, this goes against the grain of the book as very player-driven.
We could take another bash at this and probably handle things better, but it seems like it would be easier just to try and run more Dixie-2 in a system we're more familiar with. I'm not sure what'll happen with this. Just like before, I'd really like to hear some people who actually know what they're doing running this game.