A toolbox of horror - a Mephisto review
Fate Horror Toolkit
The adaptation of the role-playing game Fate to the horror genre is thought to be not quite easy. This is mainly because Fate provides players with far-reaching possibilities to influence the game's plot directly. This approach can be quite detrimental to a horror atmosphere in which the characters should be rather helpless. However, while the topic has already been touched upon in subsequent publications after the basic rulebook, the Fate Horror Toolkit now provides a specifically dedicated kit to genre adaptation.
The book first takes the time to analyze the horror genre and define what actually constitutes horror. Above all, the sensitive topic of dealing with the players is addressed comprehensively: A horror game round should definitely get close to the player's fears - but definitely not too close.
After this introduction, the book initially revolves around rule adaptations. Attention is paid to what is needed in character creation to generate characters appropriate to the genre. Of course, aspects such as the death of player characters are just as much a topic here as, for example, the idea that deceased player characters continue to play along as ghosts or shape a legacy aspect with their death. The question of how to create suitable non-player characters is also discussed. Other new ideas include a collaborative Fate point pool and expanded rules for compelling aspects. In particular, the concept of using cleverly worded aspects to set up a dilemma so that player characters are faced with difficult decisions is presented in detail.
A separate chapter is devoted to the question of how confronting horror changes player characters and what scars in physical and psychological terms these encounters leave behind. It introduces, for example, trauma aspects and discusses how to deal with the sensitive topic of mental illness. Even the topic of splatter effects and their effect on the player characters are discussed.
No sourcebook of this type would be complete without a chapter on creating appropriate monsters and enemies and skillfully implementing them within the Fate rules and representing them in the game. Some classic creatures exemplify the whole approach. Even the genre variant, in which one's own body becomes the enemy, is given extensive space.
This is followed by several chapters specific to setting conventions - for example, games where it is clear that the story is heading towards inevitable doom or campaign basics focused on survival horror. The comparatively new topic of so-called feminine horror is also addressed. More surprising, there is a chapter for young players, which describes in game terms how to implement more humorous ghost stories à la Scooby Doo within the framework of this rulebook.
The Fate Horror Toolkit is a very comprehensive book on the genre, discussing elementary topics as well as adapting Fate's rule base accordingly through rule modifications and additions. If you plan to play Fate with a horror background - or want to add more horror elements to your existing Fate campaign - you will not only find a toolbox full of helpful adaptations, but also various ideas and, above all, tips and tricks for a coherent atmosphere, but also for a good interaction with the players. Even if, as with most books of this kind, you will probably never use all rule aspects in the game, this book seems to me to be a well-made tool that can greatly enrich a corresponding Fate game.