There still seems to be a bit of confusion when it comes to the differences between the two newest versions of Fate by Evil Hat. Today, I hope to give a concise list of the differences.
Core Contra Accelerated
If you ask Fred Hicks, the official difference is “about 250 pages.” Which is not inaccurate: Fate Core clocks in at 310 pages and Fate: Accelerated Edition is a paltry 50 pages. Note that both books are in 6x9 format, not the usual 8.5x11 we’re used to. That comes to around 93k words for Core, and just over 14k words for Accelerated. For some comparisons on word count, check out this thread over on RPGnet.
The biggest difference is that of scope: Fate Core System (FC) is full of examples and advice. Almost 50 pages is devoted to running the game, and a further 25 pages is dedicated to how to write sessions and scenarios. Not to mention the 18 pages on character and world advancement. Heck, the Extras chapter is 22 pages of “here’s how to tweak aspects, stunts, and skills to do what you want them to do.”
Fate Accelerated Edition (FAE) is more compact, with less examples and advice. It is designed to be a quick read. Besides, why rehash what’s already been done? There are a few passages in FAE that say, “to learn more, see chapter X of Fate Core.”
Another big difference is the context. In FC, your character has skills. It tells you what your character is doing. Things like investigate, Drive, Shoot, and the like. The default skill list has 18 different skills, with rules on how each does one of the four actions: overcome, create an advantage, attack, and defend.
FAE, on the other hand, has 6 approaches instead of skills. Approaches tell how your character does something, and they are Careful, Clever, Flashy, Forceful, Quick, and Sneaky. Take the famous attack action: if hidden in shadows, you can sneakily attack, but a barbarian would forcefully do the same, while an elven archer would carefully line up a shot. With the focus on how something is done instead of what is done, you can get away with a lot more with the 6 approaches than 18 skills.
##Miscellaneous There are a lot more minor changes between the two, like FAEs mad-lib style stunts, or FC having three different types of mooks.
Also of note is the rules on stress and consequence recovery. In FC, you have two stress tracks: physical and mental. They start out at 2 boxes, and can go up to 4 with high skill ratings. In FAE, you have one stress track of 3 boxes. FC mild consequences require a skill roll to start recovery, then they last for one scene, FAE mild consequences clear out at the end of the scene with no recovery roll or time required.
In the end, however, they are all small changes. Under the hood, it’s all the same engine.
They are both built upon the same Fate gaming engine, but FAE is more stripped down, with a few moving parts as necessary to make a quick game—perfect for pick-up-and-play—while allowing you to steal anything you want from FC.
FC is full of useful examples and advice, with a few more moving parts than FAE.
In the end, they’re both Fate through and through, and it’s very easy to start with FAE to learn the mechanics of the game, then move on to FC if you want more moving parts.