BHAW – Pretty, but is it Fate?

There is an old Kipling poem called The Conundrum of the Workshops’. It starts with Adam in the Garden of Eden drawing a picture in the dirt and feeling quite pleased about it. Along comes the Devil and remarks to him “Pretty, but is it Art?”

I think of BHAW as a Fate game. It’s got Aspects, Stunts and a set of Traits that are roughly equivalent to Skills or Approaches. It also uses Fudge dice and the adjective-based ladder. More crucially BHAW is a character-centric system, the sort of game in which a character’s passions, background and motivations matter at least as much as more material concerns like his equipment. So it’s basically Fate, right?

Well yes, but I can also see how others on reading through it may not think of BHAW as Fate, not really.

One of my aims when designing BHAW was to make the system unfussy and approachable. In the pursuit of unfussiness I stripped out from Fate a lot of the jargon, generally reduced the number of moving parts and excised what I saw as the more conceptually challenging and intimidating bits. And with that much of the clinical purity and rigour of the Fate system went straight out of the window.

So for instance there is no formal Concession mechanics in BHAW; if someone wants to run away or surrender, he just does. Also Aspects have been simplified; of all the different flavours of Aspects commonly found in Fate, BHAW only supports those that relate to characters. Consequences have been replaced in BHAW by something a little simpler and a little more old school.  And that little bit old school vibe, I would argue, plays a fundamental part instilling in BHAW a sense of unfussiness.

Even so I do think there is still a lot of Fate in BHAW. Some bits are either hidden away as advice or presented as options. I think this is the right approach for this game because ultimately it will always be easier for Fate veterans to add more vanilla Fate to BHAW than for newcomers to the system to strip these things out.

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One thought on “BHAW – Pretty, but is it Fate?

  1. Pingback: BHAW – Pretty, but is it Fate, Part II? | UKRP Design Collective

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