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Designing Games One

Here at Encoded Designs we’ve been designing a Fate version of Part Time Gods, a Third Eye Games IP that I’m quite fond of. For those who don’t know, you’re playing regular people who’ve been gifted with a divine spark and now they need to balance the problems and responsibilities of the divine world they find themselves in against their human ones.

When we were conceptualizing this game the thing I wanted was to make “godly magic” flexible and elegant. In Part Time Gods Eloy put together a system of manifestations to represent the kinds of “magic” a god can employ and a Dominion to constrain what a god can affect while flavoring the gods power. It’s a nice system, but each manifestation has three sub-categories and while they all work on a similar roll+stat mechanic, they have a lot of subsystems for how their results play out.

In Fate, players can create aspects through the create an advantage action. That mechanic solves a lot of the problems of subsystems since if you can think of it then you can try and create it, write what you’ve created on an index card, have it impact the scene through it’s fictional weight, plus it has the additional mechanical presence of invocations on top of it.

See it’s funny because it’s literal and figurative at the same time. You know, you put the fate points on the index card.


OK, I’ll stop with the jokes.

Let me get back to the point. By pulling out the subsystems of the original Part Time Gods game and inserting the create advantage action you still have the flexible magic of the gods but in a more elegant design.

Now there is a drawback. Because you’re going with a more generalized rule in create advantage it’s not as specific as the original Part Time Gods subsystems for what you can do with it, so there will be some more rulings and discussion at the table between the GM and players.

I like elegant designs which might put a little more on the table to do some work making decisions rather than a sub system heavy game where what I can do is spelled out within the rules. The caveat is that the rules I’m given or have created need to help keep me within the game I’m playing.

So what do you think? Do you like subsystem heavy games or games with more universal systems?

Christopher Sniezak

Since 2011, Chris has written and designed for games like Fate, Gumshoe (Dracula Dossier), Numenera (Tales from the Mechanical Bard), and D&D (Living Forgotten Realms scenarios). As a podcaster, he’s been the host, producer, and audio engineer of The Misdirected Mark Podcast, Down with D&D, and Geekin Out. In his spare time he loves listening to audiobooks and podcasts, playing board games, and watching or reading anything superhero related.

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