Hard science-fiction role-playing with FATE. Diaspora uses the FATE engine made popular in Spirit of the Century to deliver gritty and realistic science fiction in a unique setting tailored to each group's play.
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Feb 15, 2010
Diaspora is not only one of the finest implementations of FATE yet published, it is probably one of he best SF RPGs the hobby has ever seen. The mechanics are very robust—without being complicated—and reinforce the tone of the game at every turn. Every phase of play is also highly collaborative; truly a group endeavor that keeps everyone at the table engaged and constantly contributing to the fiction. This is a lean, mean SF gaming machine that will constantly surprise you. Anyone who is a fan of SF or FATE should have this game on their shelf, and every tabletop gamer should at least give it a try. It's truly a triumph.
Diaspora is a very interesting take on the basic mechanics of the FATE rpg system and its expansion as seen in the Spirit of the Century rpg by Evil Hat Productions. Diaspora strips down the FATE engine to the core concepts of shared setting creation, the Skill Pyramid, Aspects, Stunts, and Fate Points, then builds it back up in a very lean, focused fashion. For example, the plethora of Stunts from Spirit of the Century are reduced to four fundamental categories of Stunts. Each of these categories in turn has the potential to represent a large number of player-created stunts. The players and GM collaborate to create the setting and characters. The system for generating star systems is remarkable in how it presents a simple set of details (6-10 star systems in a cluster, each system defined by Tech, Environment, and Resource ratings plus 3 Aspects) and then encourages the table to squeeze the story it wants to tell from that basic framework. The systems for designing starships and... More > technology are also simple and efficient, using a point-buy system focused on defining the key details of what these things do, rather than a lot of calculations and balancing acts. The game also includes mini-systems for starship combat, platoon level planetary combat, and social conflicts. Each combines a large degree of abstraction with a need to manage a few key resources. The mechanics are an interesting mix of a small but powerful set of core variables (in the form of stats like movement, weapons, and 3 distinct damage tracks) and a very free-form set of narrative tools (the Aspects of ships and characters) that can trigger good and bad results. These mini-systems are subsystems of the core resolution mechanics but use similar principles; they also appear to be optional in the sense that you can use or ignore them as you like. Diaspora has a setting, but it is mostly implied as a set of restrictions rather than a detailed backdrop. Diaspora is primarily a toolkit for a specific type of game--hard science fiction--that somehow provides for great flexibility of play styles and goals within that genre. You could play a Hammer's Slammers type campaign of mercenary combat on alien worlds, a game of interstellar archaeologists seeking ancient mysteries, a game of space smugglers and free traders, or even a story of social upheaval and revolution with equal support from the rules. I found it a good purchase and a well-made book in all senses of the word.< Less
Very good implementation of the FATE rules system. Clear and easy to read (in a technical-manual sort of way). I was disappointed when I finished reading since I wanted more! The examples of play really showed what can be done with this game and I hope to play it soon.
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