The only version of Fate I am passably acquainted with is Fate Core, but these days I am peeking at other incarnations of the system. I have this embarrassing, outdated fetish for universal systems, so my curiosity was soon captured by Fate Accelerated Edition (FAE) and the older Strands of Fate (SoF). The systems also relate in interesting ways with the matters discussed in my last post.
FAE is basically a strongly reduced version of Fate Core, offered by the same publisher. It is quite overtly conceived as a gateway to Fate and RPGs in general. It is extremely concise (less than 50 pages) and sold very cheap. Again, it is a nice book and the writing is good. Both the style and the art (by the anime-inspired Italian artist Claudia Cangini) suggest an attempt at reaching a younger audience. How effectively? I do not know: a simple version of D&D (say, the old red box or the new Starter Set) seems massively easier to learn than the heavily “metagaming” Fate, be it accelerated or not. When it comes to substance, the reduction of Fate Core seems to revolve around getting rid of the skills. In place of the 18 skills (which were pretty generic already), FAE has six very general approaches, which rate how good your PC is at solving problems Carefully, Flashily, Forcefully, Quickly and Sneakily. As far as I can see, the rest of the game is pretty much the same, minus some optional add-ons. Honestly, I do not think I would be interested in playing FAE: to my antiquated eyes, Fate Core is already streamlined to the extreme, I would not ask for anything simpler even if I had to prepare adventures for a large group in under 20 minutes. On the other hand, I think FAE is admirably consistent: it effectively gets rid of 95% of anything beyond the core dynamics of fate points (aspects), leaving you with just a modicum of crunch (numbers) in the guise of approaches. Real enthusiasts of this attitude might actually come to prefer FAE to Core, precisely in virtue of its more radical choice. A quick review of Fate-inclined blogs confirms this prediction.
SoF is on the opposite end of the spectrum. Besides a number of difference in the core notions (emphasizing Stunts, here called Advantages), the biggest differences are (a) in the character generation method, explicitly formulated in a point-buy fashion and (b) in the extensive amount of crunchy lists of equipment and vehicles. SoF, in brief, implicitly addresses the second of my problems with Fate Core: here, as in traditional games, which weapon you wield or which spaceship you drive does make a difference. This proves that nothing prevents you from coupling the core dynamics of Fate (aspects, fate points) with a modicum of simulation. More generally, the core SoF book is a solid, comprehensive, truly universal rulebook. Given my huge love for the old GURPS(3e) rulebook, I confess that I find the approach very attractive. At the same time, the creative team behind Fate Core did, I think, a better job at making the game readable and playable. If I feel like playing in an arbitrary setting with a good degree of technical detail and a very refined character creation, I would probably go for GURPS itself, but it may be just me.