Inverse World Accelerated Review

I had forgotten that when I backed Inverse World that I would also get a Fate Accelerated Edition pdf of it, too, and I really hope I did not pay any extra.

I have played FATE, but not FAE, so I do not know what the mechanical differences are, if any. Someone said that it is like FATE, but that chargen goes much faster.

Since I do not have a lot of experience with FATE I am not going to talk about the mechanics much, because I do not feel like I am really qualified to determine what makes for a really good or bad stunt.

What I do feel qualified about is what makes a good setting and playbook. The last time I talked about the Dungeon World version of it I was very critical of the setting and more than a few moves: you can go read the whole thing here, but if you do not want to go through the post here is a very brief summary:
  • The setting is incredibly anemic and lackluster. It was billed as making "fantasy fantastical again" (because i guess by the author's own perception it is not), but really all it is is floating islands, flying ships, and a collection of bog-standard fish people, bird people, and WarCraft goblins, just by another name. Basically, stuff that anyone could come up with, and most people probably already have.
  • Some of the moves make no sense or impose fictional absolutes: one move makes it so that, no matter what, you will never let go or will always catch yourself when falling. The captain class can get a rare, expensive airship by spending 2 trade (which equals about 220 coins) and uses a trade resource, but no one else does. So, what happens when someone else gets a ship? Or a mechanic's robot suit? So much of it feels poorly thought out and gimmicky.
  • Speaking of gimmicks, the vehicle rules. These just feels like they wanted to add more complexity to the game for its own sake (or possibly to sell books using them and/or pad out content), which is kind of strange when in Dungeon World things either use hit points or just rely entirely on the fiction to determine when they are destroyed or die.

So, assuming that the aspects and stunts are just fucking amazing (the email claims that it took a long time because they were committed to not making a lazy effort, unlike the minimal FATE conversion efforts that the author has seen "too many times"), that is essentially what you are paying $15 for. Oh, and the inverting rule gimmick, which lets you spend a Fate Point to tag a Drive aspect and flip your + and - results.

UPDATE: After arguing with some people online that bafflingly think this book is flawless, imaginative and/or sets any kind of meaningful standard for design and/or quality, I realized that in the Kickstarter it mentioned the races having amazing and magical features, but in neither the Dungeon World nor the FAE book is anything mentioned about these.

Something else I noticed lacking from the book is that there are no aspects for the general locations, like the Island Chains or the Cloud seas, aspects for randomly generated island traits, NPCs (Faces, I guess?) in any of the example cities, aspects or stunts for the races (which would go a long way to making them feel interesting at all), and only one example airship.

I mean, the pdf for this came out almost a year late: you think they could have included that, but I guess reprinting all the FAE rules and repeating the fate fractal several times took up too much space?

Another issue I had with the Dungeon World pdf was that it had some bizarre dimensions to the tune of 4.5 x 6, which meant that while the book claimed to be 359 pages you really were not getting 359-pages of content. Well, if you were expecting a digest-sized book at any rate. Maybe you honestly thought you were getting a book that was just as tall as Dungeon World is wide?

Anyway, this one is only 280-pages, but has the same dimensions and price tag as the other one. Again, you can get a digest-sized book with a larger page count and cheaper to boot, or even tack on an extra five bucks to get a letter-sized book, with still more pages, in color, and actually good art to go with it.

Plus, at least 20 pages recap the rules from FATE (the ladder, stunts, consequences, attacking, overcoming, defending, the bronze rule, compels, etc), just over 30 are for a story, and several are blank. In other words you are getting about 220-pages of fresh content. 220-pages that are only 6 inches high.

Seriously, save your money. You can pick up Fate World: Worlds in Shadow for half the price and almost the same amount of pages, except that it has the right dimensions and I doubt it recaps the rules to pad it out. Or, why not get Jadepunk? Same price, likely the same page count if you stretch out Inverse World to a proper size, and the production quality is way better.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Hey Ryan (and/or guys from Ryan's Twitter)!

It really says something that you focus on the page count and dimensions as if it is A) not a genuine issue, and B) the only thing I am critical the uninspiring setting, lack of setting details, strange creatures, and amazing/magical features for races, poor art quality, and so on. I also find it ironic that, after everything else, Ryan accuses me of apparently not using literacy.

I am not sure who these people (including the obviously not biased guy that gave it a 5-star review) are desperately trying to convince that this is somehow exemplary of setting design, production quality or layout: themselves, or everyone else. If anything this book is a prime example for what not to do when writing a setting. Not that I would recommend it even for those, ah, "qualities". 

Also Ryan, I didn't use a tape measure, I just popped one of the pages into Photoshop. Something that, if Jacob had done, would realize why he is having "margin issues" with the physical book.

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