So, full disclosure: I like me some Superhero games. From Street-Level Pulp Fests to Earth-Shattering Cosmic Capers and everything in-between, there’s just something satisfying about it all. Most of my experience in the Table-Top area is with Mutants and Masterminds, but I’ve dabbled in ICONS as well. Marvel Heroic is one that I’ve wanted to try (those games are harder to find than hens’ teeth… and it doesn’t help the books aren’t in print anymore), and I’ve got a copy of the Savage Worlds Super Power Companion sitting on my bookshelf waiting to be taken for a spin.
Now, each of those systems has their ups and downs… but I’m not here to talk to you about those. Today? I’m here to talk to you about the system that’s become my preference for Running Supers games: Fate Accelerated Edition (FAE, for short).
Yeah, it seems like an odd choice, but hear me out.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Fate, check out the Link Here if you want detailed information. Fate and it’s variants are basically a Narrative System that uses Fudge Dice (6 Sides, 2 of which are Blank, 2 are ‘+’, 2 are ‘-‘), as well as Aspects (Descriptive Phrases), Skills/Approaches, and Stunts (‘Feats’ by Any Other Name). Yes, I realize that Venture City is a thing… but- while it’s a cool concept- I’m not wholly convinced their additions are entirely necessary to run a good Supers game.
There really is only one reason that I like using FAE: it’s a REALLY simple system to use, both as a player and a GM. In theory, you could use the System As-Is without any problems (5 Aspects/6 Approaches/3 Refresh/3 Stunts). You’ll probably have to give a brief list of powers that your character has (and justify them via your Aspects) and provide an Origin story, but that’s it. There’s very little need for GM oversight, unless someone wants to play an impossible concept… but that’s a problem that even more mechanically-inclined Supers games have.
If you want to add a little more meat or riff on a few things, go nuts. It’s darned easy to do…
-Want to write up a Team Charter with a couple Aspects and Consequences, all of which can be used by Team Members? Go right Ahead.
-Want to add some Collateral Consequences that PCs or NPCs alike can use to avoid getting Taken Out? I won’t stop you.
-Want to Change the Approaches? Make stunts stronger? Give players more Refresh, or just more Free Stunts? That’s up to you. Just make sure you know what you’re getting into because that can really change (but not break) the game.
-Want to add a Power-Buy system where you get, like, 10 Points to buy Powers and Power Ranks that you can roll in place of Approaches? Not my cup of tea, but if you want to put that in your Game, that’s your call.
Now, FAE isn’t perfect. There’s still the ever-present problem in Supers games of keeping the party together, as well as having players keeping their inner Loot-Happy Murder Hobo satiated. But that can be easily resolved by having a Patron (like a retired Super) or a similar Goal (taking down a local crime syndicate), as well as providing some tangible rewards. There’s also the innate issue of One-Approach Ponies, but that’s been touched on elsewhere by other folks so I’ll defer to their wisdom on the subject.
To finish things off, let me provide an example of what a character would look like… Say hello to The Ferrous Fists, a character I used for a 1930’s One Shot set in a universe we were using for a campaign. The “3×3” (Three By Three) was something I did voluntarily, just to help flesh out the character some in case he was used later.
Name: The Ferrous Fists
Played by: CanaDave
High Concept: Pugilistic Robot Vigilante
Trouble: What are these, “Laws of Robotics,” You Speak of?
Aspect 1: Experimental Technology
Aspect 2: Boxes like a Swarmer
Aspect 3: Always Learning from Humans, especially Quinn.
**Approaches** (+3, +2, +2, +1, +1, 0)
Because I Box like a Swarmer, I gain +2 to Quickly Create an Advantage on a foe involving overwhelming them with punches.
Because I’m built with Experimental Technology, once per session I can Create an Advantage with Style based on my technological features.
Because I’m a Robot, Specifically of the Pugilistic Robot Vigilante type, I can take an extra Stress Level
Robot: Because FF is a robot, he’s got perks that most organic life-forms do not, specifically…
-Enhanced Durability: His body is built from an experimental alloy that renders his body insanely sturdy.
-Immunity: He can’t be affected by diseases, and doesn’t need to eat or breathe.
-Enhanced Senses: His enhanced sensors can pick up things in the infrared spectrum, and has a Night-Vision feature
-Enhanced Mobility: FF has enhanced mobility, specifically jump-jets and a top running speed of 100 kph. In the Ring, however, these don’t get much use.
-Vulnerabilities: While he doesn’t need to eat or sleep, he still does need to, “Recharge,” from time to time to rest his Nuclear Reactor. He’s also susceptible to computer viruses (as well as occasionally having trouble reading innuendo and the like)
Boxer: FF is a Boxer who uses a Swarming style, resorting to overwhelming his foes with flurries of punches as he darts in and around.
FF was originally designed as a government experiment (dubbed, “The Scrimmage Affair”) to tinker with a line of Combat AIs. He was built to test out close-quarter combat, and his designer- Ulysses Quinn- had a soft spot for the Sweet Science.
The project was prematurely disbanded due to funding issues (officially, anyway. Unofficially, the big-wigs were concerned about the potential of foreign espionage and there were rumors of Rogue AIs), and Quinn wasn’t going to let his hard work go to waste (nor was FF willing to be deactivated). They both escaped, and eventually found an underground metahuman fight ring, and FF found himself putting his knowledge of Boxing to use as, “Kid Kilobyte.”
One night, one of the opponents got a little too upset over his loss and attacked Quinn and FF with the help of his buddies. He was nearly victorious, until a massive rainstorm hit and FF got the upper hand with his enhanced vision. He would have killed them all, had Quinn not been there to stop him.
Later on, they were approached by a mysterious individual with an offer… they were observed by a local street vigilante the night they were jumped, and said they had potential for a new project: a group of extraordinary individuals that desired to keep people safe and exact JUSTICE.
**Ferrous Fist’s 3×3**
“Ulysses Quinn” – The original Designer of FF back in the days of the Scrimmage Affair. He’s not only the chief repairman of Ferrous Fists, but he’s also the conscience of the mechanical man.
“Ol’ Willy” – Local mechanic that lets FF and Ulysses operate out of his basement. Despite being old-fashioned and leery of the concept, he’s grown fond of the robot that sticks around to help ward off goons and the like.
“Crazy Herm” – A wino that FF saved from a gang of punks at one point. Owes FF his life, so he’s been known to stick his neck out from time to time.
“Smiley Kramer” – The owner of the underground fighting ring. He’s always willing to share some information with a former contender… for a price.
“Francis Fense” – A local fence that Quinn gets his parts and other gear from. Got all sorts of underworld connections, but always demands reciprocation.
“Officer Coolidge” – A beat Cop that’s aware of Quinn and Ferrous’s doings. As long as they make his turf easier to live in, he’s content to leave them be.
“The Janitor” – A Black Ops agent with the sole directive to clean up the remains of any defunct government projects. Coincidentally, Ferrous Fists meets the qualifications of a defunct government project.
“Two-Ton Tommy” – A local mutant pit fighter that also happens to be a sore loser. He’s still got a beef with FF over that last match where he got his keister handed to him.
“Rogue AI” – Back when the Scrimmage Affair was shut down, there were rumors that one of the AIs in the project went rogue. Unfortunately, it’s a VERY well-grounded rumor.