FATE is the game engine that drives Edgerunner. It’s an interesting system, quite different than traditional role-playing game systems. The primary difference is that both the responsibility and the powers associated with a traditional gamemaster are not present in FATE, therefore Edgerunner. It is distributed among all the players, including the gamemaster(called the referee in Edgerunner)
First of all, in Edgerunner, creating a setting, a story and related plot elements is a collaborative endeavor. Everybody pitches in about what kind of a world they want for their story. Edgerunner provides sructured mechanisms for creating a cyberpunk world to play in. The players need not even have picked a referee among them at this point.
The play relies on two key elements. Aspects are short, evocative statements that define anything in the world and make them special. Characters, corporations, items, locations and many other things have a number of aspects that define them. Aspects are used in play to drive the story, and to activate aspects, the FATE game engine uses fate points. Fate points are a form of currency, exchanged and spent to gain narrative power over the story. Players have a limited number of fate points. The referee has unlimited fate points.
The use of fate points grants the players temporary gamemaster-like powers, but also imparts them with similar responsibilities. Contrary to usual RPG practice, the referee keeps almost no secrets. Information is available to everyone at the table, but the players are expected to be aware of the difference between their own knowledge and their characters' knowledge.
The referee has three main responsibilities. He manages the flow of fate points, arbitrates all disputes, and plays the rest of the world (ie. anyone except player characters). He even does not have to drive the story because there isn’t a “the story” in Edgerunner. A story emerges as everyone plays.
Edgerunner FATE contains as few rules as possible, but is flexible enough to cover a lot of things in game. The system is a mechanism for facilitating a story, rather than simulating a world. The game mechanisms in Edgerunner only come into play when there is a conflict of interest among all the players including the referee on how they want the story to proceed.
Of course it is reasonable to offer modifications and discuss a bit to arrive at a story everybody likes, but if anybody objects, it is time to roll the dice.
The FATE system allows everyone at the table to affect the task resolution, which depends on a structured system of rolling dice and comparing numbers, and using aspects with fate points to affect the outcome.
In traditional RPG’s, players detail their characters' intentions, and the gamemaster determines a form of task resolution, usually involving dice. The result of the resolution just indicates a predetermined outcome. In Edgerunner, this is a bit different. Dice are rolled before the story is detailed, with only a rough definition of the character’s intentions. The result is a baseline degree of success/failure, which is first modified by any stakeholders using aspects and fate points, and then used to tell a nice story that fits the result.
See the following pages for the task resolution and storytelling mechanisms in Edgerunner.
Download the reference sheet in PDF format.