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Fate Core

Making the Setting Work in Fate

Decide what the world that surrounds the protagonists is like.

You’re probably already familiar with the idea of a setting, but in short, it’s everything that the characters interact with, such as people, organizations and institutions, technology, strange phenomena, and mysteries (crime, intrigue, and cosmic or historical legend). These are the sort of things that characters want to engage with, are forced to engage with, look to for help, or stand in their way.

If you’re using a setting that already exists, from a movie, novel, or other game book, then many of these ideas are ready for you to use. Of course, you’ll also likely add your own spin on things: new organizations or different mysteries to uncover.

If you’re inventing a setting, you have more work cut out for you. It’s beyond the scope of this chapter to tell you how to make a setting. If you choose to do that it is assumed that you already know how to build one. (Besides, we live in a vast world of media. See tvtropes.org if you don’t believe us.) One word of advice, though—don’t try to invent too much up front. As you’ll see in the Game Creation section, you’re going to be generating a lot of ideas just through the process of game and character creation, so the details will come in time.

Amanda, Lenny, Lily, and Ryan sit down to talk about the setting. They’re all jonesing for a low fantasy game, as Lenny and Lily have recently read some of the Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories. So they pitch “two guys and a girl with swords.” The world is “vaguely medieval, Earth with the serial numbers filed off.”

Ryan suggests “guy and girl with swords, and guy without a sword” so that there’s a difference between the two guys. Also, because he wants to play someone who is more bookish (for contrast). Everyone’s on board with this, and they move on.