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The Book of Hanz

Why the heck am I doing this?

Okay, no big reveal (I'm actually working for Evil Hat! Muahahaha) or anything of the sort. But I've put a lot of time into some of these posts, and I'd like to just point out why I'm doing this. I mean, at the end of the day, this is just an RPG, a fun way to kill some time.

I'm a long term gamer. Been playing for over thirty years now, started with Moldvay D&D. I've played a plethora of systems. I've worked with famous industry folks, though I certainly am not a "famous industry folk" myself.

My mindset is pretty fully old-school. Yay, character death, and difficulty, and earning the awesome. If you had asked me a year ago if it would make sense for a character to find a secret door that wasn't on the map, just because they'd rolled well, I'd ask if you were crazy. If you told me a year ago that I'd advocate not killing characters without a discussion, I'd ask you to share your stash. (BTW, I'd still maintain those statements, for certain types of games!)

I started Fate with SotC and DFRPG. And it was a learning curve. There were things I just wasn't getting, and I knew it. But I liked enough of what was going on, and liked enough of Fate (my previous foray into more narrative systems had been Burning Wheel) that I stuck with it. And the biggest issue, over and over again, was the fact that I was unconsciously trying to make Fate act like a more traditional system.

Where were the attributes? Where were the things you put together? How the heck did it make sense to have an aspect Really Strong, yet it only came into play on occasion? This is madness!

But I stuck with it. I read the books, I played with folks that got it (Hi, Jacob Poss!). I read responses from the gurus on this community (more than I care to name most of you know who you are!).

At first, it was a few bits here and there that came together that were just awesome. And then, at some point, something clicked. It came together. I got it. "Fiction, not physics" became more than a cute catchphrase meaning that fun was more important than realism. I stopped looking for more systems. The airplanes-as-stunts in Kriegszeppelin Valkyrie made sense. The importance of the Phase Trio clicked, and it wasn't just party cohesion.

When it all came together, I found a new way to play RPGs. A way that's pretty awesome, and not very much like the D&D I played when I was 10.

Now, don't get me wrong -I still like other ways of playing. I've got no problem with a good old fashioned dungeon crawl, or a set of tactical set piece encounters with some story/investigation bits between them. I've had a heck of a lot of fun over the years playing those games, and I'm sure I'll have more in the years to come. I want to run an X-COM game at some point, and it almost certainly won't be in Fate (GURPS and Savage Worlds are the frontrunners atm).

And that's what these posts are about -detailing my realizations, and throwing them out there to maybe help other people that are struggling to come to grips with the same things I came to grips with. So if I post something like, "Fate doesn't have a damage system," don't take that as the prophet on the mount making a proclamation. I'm not into the holy prophet thing, given that the fashion choices are terrible and the life expectancy is generally worse. Instead, take it as me going, "Holy shit! I just realized, this game doesn't have a damage system! It thinks about the results of combat in an almost totally different way! That's crazy cool!"

So that's what these posts are about. Trying to help others look at Fate with a bit of "beginner's mind," and seeing it through eyes not trained by years of gaming in other systems. It's about helping others to find the things that I find awesome in the system. It's not about telling people they're doing things "wrong" -there's no Fate Police ready to knock down doors, the last I checked. If you're having fun, as far as you're concerned, you're doing it right. It's about sharing the things that I've discovered about the system when I stopped trying to shove its square peg into a round hole.

And I'll say, doing that is tough. We've got a lot of things in traditional gaming that work, and make for awesome games. In a lot of cases, deviating from those slightly doesn't work, as those games tend to sit on "local maxima" -areas where the decisions made work together in a tight, interlocked way. But I think Fate sits on a very different local maximum than most games, and to find it you've gotta change a lot of assumptions, and be willing to approach it like it was the very first game you've played. I've found it to be worth it, and so I want to share what I've learned to help others find that same awesome.

And if you're interested, come on along for the journey. Share your insights with me, and I'll happily share mine with you. If not, hell, maybe we'll get together and play a game that sits in a different area, and have fun doing that.

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