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Minireview: Fate Worlds: Worlds on Fire / Worlds in Shadow (Fate Core)

Worlds on Fire and Worlds in Shadow form volumes one and two of “Fate Worlds”, supplements for the Fate Core ruleset which contain an assortment of game settings for various styles and genres. The books are the result of stretch goals from the mega-successful Kickstarter for the core game, and what was initially projected to be “a few example settings” grew into two sizable volumes. Good ones, to boot.

The books don’t really follow any strict themes, though there is a small “fire” theme in the first volume and the settings in the second one are maybe a slight bit “darker”. All settings are presented in nice, compact fashion, with setting descriptions, suggested core rules tweaks, example NPCs, and story seeds all laid out. The art is generally good, of the same quality as in the core game book.

“Worlds on Fire” contains a fantasy setting (“Tower of the Serpents”), a setting simulating a TV series (“White Picket Witches”), a real-life firefighter one (“Fight Fire”), a weird but wonderful alternate-history WW1 setting (“Kriegzeppelin Valkyrie”), a strange post-apoc setting (“Burn Shift”) and a Wild West setting with superpowers thrown in (“Wild Blue”). So yeah, quite a mixed set, but they are all good (in very different ways).

“Worlds in Shadow” starts off with a section devoted to the “crime caper” genre (“CrimeWorld”). This isn’t a setting as much as it’s an intro on a genre (think TV shows like Leverage and movies like Ocean’s 11). Next up is a setting where the players work for a time-travel agency with an agenda of changing history in a way which suits the aims of the agency (“Timeworks”). Naturally enough, this has some sinister implications. Next, there a 1920s “pulp”- themed romp (“The Ellis Affair”) which is ok but maybe not up to the same quality as the other offerings. After than there’s “No Exit”, which explores how to do horror in Fate Core (not something it’s best at, generally). It’s a great and creepy affair, playing on the concept of memory. Next up there’s perhaps the most bizarre setting in these volumes, in which players fight an alien invasion as members of Louis XV’s (decadent) court (“Court/Ship”). For some reason, it reminded me a bit of some Dr. Who episodes – in a good way. Last is… well, another contender for the “most bizarre” setting, in which players enact Arthurian legends with big stompy robots (mecha), in “Camelot Trigger”.

Overall, these books are a fantastic collection of very unique and imaginative settings and game tweaks, covering a huge swathe of genres and play styles. Even if you don’t want to use any of these “as is”, there’s a lot of info and hints here on how to tweak Fate Core into various different directions. If you like Fate Core, these are very much worth picking up.

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