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rogueboy
2011-05-02, 04:48 PM
I've seen a few of these up, but none of them seem to have the same goals I do when looking at a system (not surprising, really), so I figured I would throw it to the playground to give me some ideas as to possible systems I should look at.

Background: I have only played D&D to any real extent, and even that only 3/3.5 and 4e (briefly), with 3.5 being what I have the most experience with. As such, I haven't seen how a lot of systems work, which I realize is going to limit what I can give about what I'm looking for. If there's something I don't address, either give me options with caveats or (perhaps preferably) ask me so I can address it.

Now, as to what I'm actually looking for:
1. I want to provide options for my players without overwhelming them. I feel that while 3.x provides an enormous number of options that allows players to cover any desired character concept, there are so many options that someone who hasn't worked with the system for a while will get scared away. I can see working with either generic/broad classes or a classless system without issue.
2. Avoid rocket-tag. Obviously one of 3.x's more well-known issues at higher level, this is a simple fix: cap fairly low. I like E6's method of doing this, which can be fairly easily transported to other systems.
3. Promote role-playing over roll-playing. While there should obviously be rules for handling combat for a typical high-fantasy story, it shouldn't bog down the session and lead to "combat sessions" and "RP sessions", which I have had campaigns end up being.
4. Style: As I mentioned above, I am looking for a system that supports high fantasy. Whether that's by initial design, tech levels, or just choosing options in a modern/futuristic system that need to be removed/refluffed, I don't care.

I think that about covers the major points. If there's other things that are important in picking a system, as I said above, point them out and I'll add them to the list.

Thanks!

nyarlathotep
2011-05-02, 05:03 PM
Conan d20 might be up your alley. It's a lot like D&D, but magic is more limited, melee combat is more interesting, and rocket tag is reduced.

Just a thing as many things vary from system to system so do what bogs down the combat, but a lot of the time it is decisions made rather than the system itself. Usually if you want fast combat you should try to make sure your players know what they want to do before their turn comes up and limit things that allow minions or summoned creatures.

Comet
2011-05-02, 05:03 PM
You have Archer as your avatar. I reckon Exalted will work for you just fine.

A bit of a standard suggestion, I admit, but Exalted really is a decent system with a really cool setting attached. The power levels can climb pretty high, with the potential for rocket tag, but I suppose that's just something inherent in the whole high fantasy styling.

Anyway, Exalted pretty much brings it all to the table. Wuxia, anime, western mythology, everything has its place in the setting. Add to that a dose of modern sensibility of coolness via magitech and such and you can tell all kinds of different stories with the set.

dsmiles
2011-05-02, 05:08 PM
Conan d20 might be up your alley. It's a lot like D&D, but magic is more limited, melee combat is more interesting, and rocket tag is reduced.
I agree, but I also recommend Burning Wheel, or any of its children.

EDIT: Unless you like action-comedy. Then I recommend BESM: The Slayers d20.

nyarlathotep
2011-05-02, 05:17 PM
You have Archer as your avatar. I reckon Exalted will work for you just fine.

A bit of a standard suggestion, I admit, but Exalted really is a decent system with a really cool setting attached. The power levels can climb pretty high, with the potential for rocket tag, but I suppose that's just something inherent in the whole high fantasy styling.

Anyway, Exalted pretty much brings it all to the table. Wuxia, anime, western mythology, everything has its place in the setting. Add to that a dose of modern sensibility of coolness via magitech and such and you can tell all kinds of different stories with the set.

Exalted has a really hard nasty case of the rocket tag without system mastery also the mechanics are very much tied up in its setting which is not for everyone.

Personally I think Scion works better for most high fantasy stuff than Exalted, but that makes me a heretic now doesn't it.

Comet
2011-05-02, 05:24 PM
Exalted has a really hard nasty case of the rocket tag without system mastery also the mechanics are very much tied up in its setting which is not for everyone.

Personally I think Scion works better for most high fantasy stuff than Exalted, but that makes me a heretic now doesn't it.

Actually, you're very much right on the shortcomings of Exalted as a system and me omitting Scion was entirely a case of my brain not remembering stuff it's supposed to when it's tired.

I personally prefer Exalted, but that's due to the setting first and rules second. On Scion, though, isn't that also tied pretty heavily into its setting? The whole modern world with all mythologies being real thing? Or, at least, a big portion of the book is about that assumption so throwing it away for a different setting would strike me as a bit of a waste of money.

I like my roleplaying games to come with a confident, pre-defined setting more often than a generic sandbox of DIY, but it's all a matter of personal preference.

nyarlathotep
2011-05-02, 05:41 PM
I as a GM found Scion easier to genericize in setting, but changing the tech level from modern day is quite a hassle. I forgot to mention that.*

Also after looking back on my last post I'd just like to clarify that I think Exalted is a fine system if everyone has fairly good system mastery (much like D&D) just no what the OP was looking for.

*I should most my AU steampunk scion rules here sometime.

Knaight
2011-05-02, 05:46 PM
Fudge Fantasy should work just fine for this. Furthermore, there is always the ORE option, if you are willing to do a bit of refluffing. Nemesis is probably the best of the ORE games for this, particularly if you want permanent psychological damage as a possibility.

rogueboy
2011-05-02, 06:04 PM
Thanks for the replies, I'll take a look at them, and we'll see what I like. It'll definitely be easier than the near-total rewrite of 3.x/PF that I was looking at wanting to do.

And on a side note, I didn't pick the avatar because of the anime, it just looked like a cool rogue-type, so I used it.

Terraoblivion
2011-05-02, 06:21 PM
When you say high fantasy, what exactly do you mean? It's quite possibly the least specific genre label ever as every single person seems to mean something different with it.

However, I'd like to recommend Weapons of the Gods. It's a wuxia game, which means that it might not be what you want when you say high fantasy, though I imagine it can be refluffed simply by changing names, removing automatic access to Lightfoot and describe people and equipment differently. In any case, it supports roleplaying in a number of ways built into the system, though the two primary are the nature of the magic system and the loresheets.

The first is generally extremely indirect. While there are direct spells for use in a battle or a tense debate or similar, it generally works by creating complex curses or blessings that punishes or rewards specific behavior. Cursing someone to kill their father and have sex with their mother, for example, would penalize all actions taken to avoid doing this, while a blessing to the same effect would give them a bonus whenever they took an action leading to that goal, meaning that you'd generally try to combine the two. A more simple curse, say giving someone the flu, would give them a penalty whenever they forgot to act like their joints ached and that they felt nausea, while if they took appropriate actions to show that they would not suffer the penalty. It's not only a very flexible, player-driven system, it also works by encouraging people to roleplay the effects, rather than simply slapping them with a bonus or a penalty.

The other is the way the setting is presented. Essentially everything except the core rules is a lore sheet. You can buy these with Destiny, the xp equivalent, and they then allows you to make calls of how the plot works. You can buy a story twist that reveals that your sister is secretly a member of the Jade Dragon Society and then it is so, with all the resources and complications that means. Similarly, you can buy a guarantee that an NPC you find interesting will become important in the story of your character somehow or that you learn a major hint to a story event. Unfortunately many of these are setting specific, which means that the creation of new ones will be needed if you try to transplant the system to a different setting.

The system also has a fair amount of options thanks to a large number of different kung-fu styles as well as the great freedom gained if you choose to be a scholar or courtier and learn magic. It isn't overwhelming, but no two characters have to feel mechanically similar unless you have a truly huge group. People are also durable enough that rocket tag is unlikely, while the combat system is fluid and fast-paced enough that battles still don't take up annoyingly long periods of time.

So as long as you're alright with wuxia or up for some work refluffing, I believe this might be a really good choice for what you're looking for,

Knaight
2011-05-02, 06:26 PM
That reminds me, Qin is perfect for this. Its a wuxia or historical Chinese game, and works beautifully for high fantasy. It is also extremely well made.

Kiero
2011-05-02, 07:53 PM
Strands of Fate (see massive preview (http://www.voidstar.me/storage/Strands%20of%20Fate%20Preview.pdf)) is an alternative FATE option, it's a generic toolkit with everything you need to do a high fantasy game.

rogueboy
2011-05-03, 07:48 PM
When you say high fantasy, what exactly do you mean? It's quite possibly the least specific genre label ever as every single person seems to mean something different with it.

When I say that I'm looking for high fantasy, I'm looking for a system that can replicate the type of world we see in Discworld (Tolkien-esque, for those who aren't familiar with Discworld): While powerful, magic isn't necessarily the one-size-fits-all solution that it ends up being in standard 3.x worlds. It may require intelligent planning, but a dragon doesn't equal a death sentence for a group of fighters (Guards, Guards giving that inspiration). So I guess it would approximate a standard D&D world (I haven't read books, so I'm working off the RPG campaign materials here), but without the 'magic beats everything' theme we see so often because of how imbalanced the system innately is. Hopefully that helps explain what I'm looking for.

dsmiles
2011-05-03, 07:57 PM
3.5e DnD has the Iron Kingdoms setting, if you don't mind getting Steampunk in your fantasy. In IK, magic can be as dangerous to the user as it is powerful. Mechanickal devices are more common than magical items due to the drain on a caster's essence (permanent HP loss). Also, Iron Kingdoms spawned the Warmachine and Hordes tabletop wargames. (Privateer Press puts out some awesome minis.)

Mark Hall
2011-05-03, 08:30 PM
Palladium Fantasy is worth a look, though I hesitate to suggest it... it can also be a rough game to deal with, if you're looking for anything like release schedule. It also somewhat depends on edition... while they're more or less compatible, they're not strictly so. Your direct points:


Now, as to what I'm actually looking for:
1. I want to provide options for my players without overwhelming them. I feel that while 3.x provides an enormous number of options that allows players to cover any desired character concept, there are so many options that someone who hasn't worked with the system for a while will get scared away. I can see working with either generic/broad classes or a classless system without issue.

Palladium fixes this with buckets o' classes. Unlike 3e where you can mix and match classes relatively freely, your class choice in Palladium is pretty much what you are... but the system is flexible enough to make most everything you want. There's also buckets o' races, including core options for orcs, kobolds, goblins, goblins with remaining faerie powers, changelings (who are allergic to salt and have the alcohol tolerance of a petite 3rd grader), trolls, ogres, and readily-available expansions that include things like narcissistic horse-headed humanoids with peacock tails, wolves with dragon wings, four-armed giants, etc.


2. Avoid rocket-tag. Obviously one of 3.x's more well-known issues at higher level, this is a simple fix: cap fairly low. I like E6's method of doing this, which can be fairly easily transported to other systems.

Especially in 2nd edition, characters are fairly tough, especially given that you can attempt to parry (active defense) most incoming melee attacks without wasting your round. You can still die, but healing options are actually kinda weak and slow... good for downtime, not so much for combat.


3. Promote role-playing over roll-playing. While there should obviously be rules for handling combat for a typical high-fantasy story, it shouldn't bog down the session and lead to "combat sessions" and "RP sessions", which I have had campaigns end up being.

This can be a little rough. Palladium has a lot of skills, meaning a mixed group can cover a lot of ground, but they don't have much mechanical support for RPing... making a "talky" character means having a high MA and PB, and choosing to be talky, rather than putting a lot of points into various talky skills. Combat can take awhile, but not necessarily... you're often going to fight to surrender, rather than death.


4. Style: As I mentioned above, I am looking for a system that supports high fantasy. Whether that's by initial design, tech levels, or just choosing options in a modern/futuristic system that need to be removed/refluffed, I don't care.

Palladium Fantasy is high fantasy, especially in 2e. There's a several different types of magic (clerical miracles, a couple different types of spellcasting, ward magic and summoning circles in the main book), an integral psionics system, and both work pretty well to leave your wizards wizards... you don't have to fall back on your crossbow to be effective in combat, as low-level spells require very little PPE (essentially, magic points), but higher level spells require a lot (for example, a 1st level wizard usually has around 100 PPE. A workhorse offensive debuff is Blinding Flash, which requires 1 PPE. Some upper level spells require hundreds of PPE and several minutes to cast).

If you choose to go down the Palladium rabbit hole, you also have a LARGE array of options to you... the system is fairly compatible with everything Palladium has done for the past 30 years, including mutant animal games, superhero games, Robotech, post-apocalyptic magic-blasted techno-wastelands, zombie games... it can be a big investment, but I've had a LOT of fun with Palladium over the years.

There ARE downsides. The rules are occasionally obtuse, and tend to require a bit of ruling. Palladium has a pathetic release schedule, dribbling out books, and has been slow to embrace things like PDFs, and remarkably resilient to calls for updating and clarifying their rules system. While some fans are nice, there's also a fairly hard-core obnoxious group who think Palladium is the best thing since individually packaged cheese food slices and any problems you have with it are fixed by just waving your hands hard enough.

dsmiles
2011-05-03, 08:43 PM
Palladium Fantasy
That's the only system that I've ever totally given up on. And it's honestly entirely because of those elitist players. I used to be big into Heroes Unlimited, TMNT, and Palladium Fantasy. It was a decent system, but there are those players who won't even game with you unless Palladium is the only system you play. At least, that's the way it was where I'm from.

Mutazoia
2011-05-03, 08:46 PM
That's the only system that I've ever totally given up on. And it's honestly entirely because of those elitist players. I used to be big into Heroes Unlimited, TMNT, and Palladium Fantasy. It was a decent system, but there are those players who won't even game with you unless Palladium is the only system you play. At least, that's the way it was where I'm from.

Don't even get me started on RIFTS....:smallbiggrin:

Mark Hall
2011-05-03, 08:54 PM
That's the only system that I've ever totally given up on. And it's honestly entirely because of those elitist players. I used to be big into Heroes Unlimited, TMNT, and Palladium Fantasy. It was a decent system, but there are those players who won't even game with you unless Palladium is the only system you play. At least, that's the way it was where I'm from.

That's a very big issue within Palladium's fanbase, IMO. While certainly not the case for every Palladium gamer, there are a number who have no experience outside of Palladium, and so judge everything by Palladium, and frequently everything else is wanting. There is a similar group in almost any gaming system, I think, but because Palladium has gone so long with so few changes, it's especially pronounced in Palladium players.


Don't even get me started on RIFTS....:smallbiggrin:

That's another thread entirely.

a_humble_lich
2011-05-03, 10:48 PM
That's a very big issue within Palladium's fanbase, IMO. While certainly not the case for every Palladium gamer, there are a number who have no experience outside of Palladium, and so judge everything by Palladium, and frequently everything else is wanting. There is a similar group in almost any gaming system, I think, but because Palladium has gone so long with so few changes, it's especially pronounced in Palladium players.


Speaking as someone who has played nearly every system Palladium has made (Fantasy, TMNT, Robotech, Beyond the Supernatural/Hero, Rifts, am I forgetting anything?) that is really sad to hear. I never saw that because I just played with friends (back in the 90s), but knowing gamers I can see it happening. I do still have a soft spot in my heart for Palladium games.

Back to the topic, if you are looking for Discworld level fantasy, GURPS might work well. GURPS is generally lower powered than other options (although it doesn't have to be), but for "Guards! Guards!" type plots it would work well. Magic is useful, but not overpowered, there are more combat options that "I hit it," and (I feel) the character generation system promotes role-playing. There may be an overwhelming number of options, and it can be hard for a new GM to get a handle around it all.

Also, there does exist GURPS Discworld:smallsmile:

TheOOB
2011-05-03, 11:08 PM
I3. Promote role-playing over roll-playing. While there should obviously be rules for handling combat for a typical high-fantasy story, it shouldn't bog down the session and lead to "combat sessions" and "RP sessions", which I have had campaigns end up being.


Apart from my dislike for that particular pun, I must say that Roleplaying has more to do with the group than an in particular system. While some system have more in depth combat rules, combat can be role play, just like anything else.

In any case, Exalted, as mentioned before is a cool setting. Personally I think the rules are broken in many aspects, but the amazing setting more than makes up for that. Sion isn't any better rules wise, but it's harder to break the system(though it's more work then I'd care to do to make is medieval.)

Another system, while defiantly more "Sword and Sorcerery" than "High Fantasy" is 7th Sea. Swashbuckling action at it's finest, and even though it's got an age of exploration thing, there is still room for cool swords, big armor, and magic(though magic is rare and rarely overt). The books are hard to find though.

True20 is the only non-D&D d20 system I really like(with the possible exception of Star Wars SAGA edition, which is more of a love-hate relationship), and it's extremely flexible. In the main book they have both a 1001 Arabian Knights setting, and a Mecha setting(and more), so you can do whatever you want. It's a fairly easy to play system.

dsmiles
2011-05-04, 05:11 AM
That's a very big issue within Palladium's fanbase, IMO. While certainly not the case for every Palladium gamer, there are a number who have no experience outside of Palladium, and so judge everything by Palladium, and frequently everything else is wanting. There is a similar group in almost any gaming system, I think, but because Palladium has gone so long with so few changes, it's especially pronounced in Palladium players.
I mean, seriously. Of the one-and-a-half groups I'm DMing for now, both of them only have experience in the d20 system and 4e-style (both DnD and Gamma World), but I feel confident that if I recommended another system (like Mouse Guard, which I'm getting my kids into over the summer) they'd have no problem switching systems. I don't know where these elitist Palladium gamers get that attitude. Maybe the lack of edition updates has got them thinking that it doesn't need updating. Sure, it's a decent system, but it's still far from perfect.

Tyndmyr
2011-05-04, 08:39 AM
Background: I have only played D&D to any real extent, and even that only 3/3.5 and 4e (briefly), with 3.5 being what I have the most experience with. As such, I haven't seen how a lot of systems work, which I realize is going to limit what I can give about what I'm looking for. If there's something I don't address, either give me options with caveats or (perhaps preferably) ask me so I can address it.

Well, the three basic mechanics are die+ modifier(usually a D20), roll and keep, and dice pool.

There are a few exotic mechanics like poker-based things, but those three will cover the vast majority of systems. I would recommend trying something from one of the two you haven't tried yet, purely to broaden your experience.


Now, as to what I'm actually looking for:
1. I want to provide options for my players without overwhelming them.
2. Avoid rocket-tag.
3. Promote role-playing over roll-playing.
4. Style: As I mentioned above, I am looking for a system that supports high fantasy.

7th Sea. The original D10 version, not the later D20(note that hybrid books with both rulesets were made. These are generally unnecessary. Just grab the core stuff).

It's quasi-historical, with some magic, a high emphasis on heroic, swashbuckling style, combat is much more about finding creative ways to pull off stylish(or occasionally hilarious) attacks than it is about killing enemies asap, and the books are stuffed with fluff.

I reccomend grabbing the two core books and the frieburg boxed set. Drive Thru RPG (http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product_info.php?products_id=3568) has the PDFs fairly inexpensively, if you're not after the original books(which now command a fairly solid price due to demand). The freiburg campaign is an excellent way to get started with the system. Note that the rules compendium is a free download, if you're curious, but don't want to buy yet.

There's a short adjustment period from D&D...but within a few sessions, my normally hack and slashy players were pursuing entirely social goals, and spent an entire session at a ball. Going from D&D to this is probably the single biggest demonstration of how big a difference a system can make to playstyle.

Mark Hall
2011-05-04, 02:35 PM
I mean, seriously. Of the one-and-a-half groups I'm DMing for now, both of them only have experience in the d20 system and 4e-style (both DnD and Gamma World), but I feel confident that if I recommended another system (like Mouse Guard, which I'm getting my kids into over the summer) they'd have no problem switching systems. I don't know where these elitist Palladium gamers get that attitude. Maybe the lack of edition updates has got them thinking that it doesn't need updating. Sure, it's a decent system, but it's still far from perfect.

There are hopeful signs; Palladium's second man (Alex) recently posted some threads asking people what they would change on their message boards. I'm somewhat cynical about them, but I do hope they pull out and succeed, because I have a significant fondness for the game.

fusilier
2011-05-04, 04:31 PM
Have looked at the D6 system? I never played their fantasy variant, but I played the progenitor of the D6 system, West End Games Star Wars. In my opinion it would fit most of your requirements (1,2, and 4) very nicely. Requirement 3 shouldn't be a problem either (3 has more to do with gm-ing/gaming style, but I do believe the choice of system can influence it).

dsmiles
2011-05-04, 05:47 PM
Have looked at the D6 system? I never played their fantasy variant, but I played the progenitor of the D6 system, West End Games Star Wars. In my opinion it would fit most of your requirements (1,2, and 4) very nicely. Requirement 3 shouldn't be a problem either (3 has more to do with gm-ing/gaming style, but I do believe the choice of system can influence it).I loved WEG Star Wars. Champions used to use a d6-based system, but I haven't played that since 1995.

Knaight
2011-05-04, 06:25 PM
I loved WEG Star Wars. Champions used to use a d6-based system, but I haven't played that since 1995.

HERO, of which Champions is a subset still uses a d6 system. It does not, however, use the d6 system.

CrazedMalarite
2011-05-04, 06:35 PM
Sort of a scatter-brained response hitting a number of systems:

Burning Wheel was mentioned earlier. It can be a great system, and of all the systems I've dealt with, it has the best hooks for role-playing - it's got some pretty nifty systems built in which really encourage RP. That said, there are a few issues. First, it pulls towards the gritty side, which I personally don't associate with high fantasy. Also, it has a lot of inertia. By which I mean that once you have it going, it'll keep itself running and move fast - but first learning the rules and getting your head around it can be a struggle.

Qin was mentioned and, while I actually know very little about it, I'll go ahead and second it; I've only heard excellent things about it, and was impressed flipping through the books. Definite wuxia feel to it; if that's okay/desired, definitely give Qin a look.

I'll also throw out Savage Worlds, which I'm starting to get into. The core system is $10 and is all you need, but there are also some REALLY nifty settings for it. It's designed to run fast and have a pretty cinematic feel to it. Edges give a bunch of options which are looser than feats, making them a lot less overwhelming in my eyes.

Mutazoia
2011-05-04, 07:11 PM
Have looked at the D6 system? I never played their fantasy variant, but I played the progenitor of the D6 system, West End Games Star Wars. In my opinion it would fit most of your requirements (1,2, and 4) very nicely. Requirement 3 shouldn't be a problem either (3 has more to do with gm-ing/gaming style, but I do believe the choice of system can influence it).

I'll have to second the WEG Star Wars suggestion. Star Wars is something everybody knows, and few people can resist the temptation to be a Jedi or Han Solo wannabe. The system itself is pretty easy to learn and play. I've still got my crap ton of stuff for this so can answer questions if needed :smallcool:

Failing that... Amber Diceless Roleplaying might be an option. Not many rules to get bogged down on and it definitely promotes Role Playing :smallbiggrin:

rogueboy
2011-05-04, 07:39 PM
So I've taken a look at several systems that have been recommended, am working on getting a hold of a couple more (7th Sea and Savage Worlds, specifically), and have had an issue (or potential issue) with all of them so far.

Burning Wheel: The non-combat portion looks awesome. However, as was pointed out, the combat section is nit-picky - far more so than I'd like to see.
Dragon AGE: I actually looked at this based on seeing a Firefly reskinning of the system, which looked cool. My primary concern with the system is that it seems built VERY tightly around the base Ferelden setting. Admittedly, this is probably something that could be tweaked, I haven't looked too much at what that would take though.
Strands of Fate: My concern here isn't a functional one, but a usage one - keeping track of all the relevant aspects. Not the players' aspects (those are on the character sheet, and they'll learn the party's aspects pretty quickly, I'd imagine), but the aspects for the various NPCs and bad guys. I'd imagine you don't give many aspects to them (and none to the nameless thugs), but I can see it getting out of hand, especially since "nameless thug" (or minion, to borrow a 4e term) seems like it is an aspect in itself.

I'll continue to look at the systems you all have recommended, feel free to continue debating them or throwing out new ideas.

I should also point out that I'm not likely to be starting a game with any of these systems any time particularly soon: I currently don't have a group since I moved cross-country last July. I'm working on that part, however, and have a few possibilities (I just need to find time to explore them further).

Knaight
2011-05-04, 10:30 PM
Strands of Fate: My concern here isn't a functional one, but a usage one - keeping track of all the relevant aspects. Not the players' aspects (those are on the character sheet, and they'll learn the party's aspects pretty quickly, I'd imagine), but the aspects for the various NPCs and bad guys. I'd imagine you don't give many aspects to them (and none to the nameless thugs), but I can see it getting out of hand, especially since "nameless thug" (or minion, to borrow a 4e term) seems like it is an aspect in itself.

Go back to Fate 2.0, and this isn't an issue. Go all the way back to the Fudge base, and you don't have to deal with Aspects at all.

Kiero
2011-05-05, 05:27 AM
Strands of Fate: My concern here isn't a functional one, but a usage one - keeping track of all the relevant aspects. Not the players' aspects (those are on the character sheet, and they'll learn the party's aspects pretty quickly, I'd imagine), but the aspects for the various NPCs and bad guys. I'd imagine you don't give many aspects to them (and none to the nameless thugs), but I can see it getting out of hand, especially since "nameless thug" (or minion, to borrow a 4e term) seems like it is an aspect in itself.


In my experience of playing several different FATE 3.0 games, this really isn't an issue in actual play. Keeping track of player characters' Aspects can be difficult at first, but NPC/scene ones are trivial by comparison.

Sounds like you're succumbing to the usual "but everything is an Aspect!" stumble people have on first contact with FATE 3.0. There's an entire rest of the system for doing most things, Aspects are shorthands for things of narrative significance.

You don't have to use Shadowy Areas if the PCs are trying to sneak through a rocky stretch of scrubland with abundant shadows, you could just say there's a fixed +1 to attempts to remain unseen and -1 to attempts to spot people moving stealthily.