The systemFate is based upon Fudge. Although I've reviewed Fudge before, I'll go through the basics so that you can see how Fate massages the moisturising cream of story into Fudge's hard mechanical skin.
Fudge describes difficulty using a series of Adjectives called the Ladder. The adjectives are Abysmal, Terrible, Poor, Mediocre, Average, Fair, Good, Great, Superb, Epic and Legendary. You use these words to represent your proficiency in various things. You roll 4D6, each 1 and 2 you roll sends you down the ladder (for example, from Poor to Terrible), each 5,6 you go up. Before you roll, there will be a target adjective on the ladder you're trying to get to - for example to do a reverse-handbrake-turn in a car, you might need to get to 'Good'. If you beat this, you get a Margin of Success, if you don't get up the ladder enough, you get a Margin of Failure. Two characters rolling against each other compare results to find the winner. Fate adds challenges, where you can chain lots of rolls together. A challenge allows a character to do something much more difficult by breaking the task down into a series of small checks.
Character creationThis is where Fate takes its first bold paces into story. Many of the ideas presented here can be lifted and pasted into your own game. It's where I start frothing excitedly with anticipation.
It begins with the GM overview. The GM describes the setting, theme and tone. Is it a Space Opera hack and slash? Is it an intrigue set in dusty vaults and tunnels under London in 1901? This is where you find out. If you have a formal setting, that's OK but you can also thrown caution to the wind and soar into the unknown - buoyed by the thermic drafts of your GM's imagination.
Characters are moulded in a series of phases. Each phase is part of your characters life where things happen. These things are what give you Aspects, Skills and Extras. For example, if you survive a University degree in Mechanical Engineering, you might get a skill in that and an Aspect of Learned with an Extra of a tool kit. Perhaps also skills in drinking, sleeping in late and vomiting into the coiffured gardens of unsuspecting neighbours. It depends on the setting, naturally. The number of phases depends mainly on the GM and setting.
A character is made up from Aspects, Skills and Extras. There are no set attributes or feats, you have to dream them up yourself. Settings will have a list of Aspect examples but the players are spurred on to go off-piste, down the steepest side of their imagination mountains. Aspects include attributes (quick, intelligent), descriptors (charming, attractive), careers (soldier) or setting specific ideas. When you choose an aspect, it starts with one level, you can choose to boost it in subsequent phases if you wish.
Skills are bought using skill ranks. Each phase, you get to add ranks to each skill and they then translate into the Ladder (Average, Good etc). You can't pump all your ranks into a single skill,
Once you've been through all the phases, you then set a goal - this is really to help the GM and as I am a serial one, I like any system that can help me satiate the frothing, rabid thirst of those putrid, gnashing, slavering, Darwin-baiting genetic-throwbacks I call my player group.