There’s been lots of talk about FAE being a pick-up game or great for one shots, but most people I’ve heard from don’t see it as a good choice for a long-term game. I’d like to visit that idea today.
What is Longevity?
First off, what is the dividing line between a one (or so) shot and a campaign? Not a whole lot, really. It’s a personal thing and depends on the game. Some people play campaigns for years, while others play for several months—enough time for three to five scenarios, to use Fate’s terminology. So calling it not good for campaign-style play is just weird, unless you adjunct, “for my tastes” or something similar.
How Long Can It Go?
Well, as long as you want, really. In essence, you can always “reset” the game at major points. For example, D&D 4E had three tiers of play: heroic, paragon, and epic. After a heroic game, you could reset your characters for paragon play. Your approaches reset, and you drop your refresh back to 3, thus resetting your stunts as well. But, you’re now playing a paragon-level hero. You have paragon-level approaches, not heroic approaches: the numbers don’t get bigger (in fact, they get smaller) but the story gets bigger, grander.
Yeah, ok. For Reals, Though!
I hear ya, you want bigger numbers, and more stunts! MOAR POWERZ! That’s cool, I can dig that, too! Let’s take a look at the advancement system in FAE: milestones.
You get a minor milestone after each session. It doesn’t increase your power or numbers or anything, but it does help to adjust your character to where you want to see them go.
Significant milestones get you an additional point for your approaches, and this is where the bread-and-butter of your advancement comes from. According to the book (page 34), you max out your approaches at Superb (+5). Since you start with one approach at Good (+3), two at Fair (+2), two at Average (+1) and one at Mediocre (+0), that means you can adventure for 21 significant milestones before you are at Superb (+5) for each approach.
Let’s say you game once a week, and most of your scenarios are 2 sessions long: that’s 42 weeks to max out. That’s 10 months of play! If a majority of scenarios are 3 sessions long, that’s 63 weeks—15 months! So anywhere from 10-15 months of gameplay before you can’t gain anymore approach bonus. I don’t know about you, but most campaigns I play in or run last less than 4 months. So even at 1 scenario a session, that’s 21 sessions, or 5 months. That’s enough for my gaming habit.
No Major Love?
I did just gloss over major milestones, yes. Why? Because they increase your refresh, and there’s no upper limit on refresh. They can come as often or as infrequent as you like, and won’t change much…well, except that each major milestone also grants the benefit of a significant milestone. So increased refresh also comes with an approach bonus to dole out. My point is that you can have no significant milestones and only do major milestones and the above math is still accurate, time wise.
What is Longevity, to You?
I can spout numbers and maths and “for me” and “in my gaming experience” all I want, but it doesn’t really address the question: What does longevity mean for you? Is a long campaign one that spans 4 months? 8? 2 years?
Fate Accelerated is pretty robust and can handle what it does well, for a decent length of time. Is it for everyone? Not a chance! There is no one game to rule them all.
It does what I need it to do very well, so it’s a good game for me. What about you? How long is a good game? Would you plan out a mini-campaign with FAE if your thing is years?