The Aether Sea: A World of Adventure for Fate Core

The Aether Sea by Edward Turner is the latest World of Adventure produced by the +Evil Hat Productions Patreon. As with all of these worlds, it is available as Pay What You Want or you can support the Patreon and get a look at what's coming in the future.

The Aether Sea is the first of these Worlds to use Fate Accelerated Edition. It presents a universe of magical ships sailing through the void of space. Characters can be from one of six fantasy species, and each has a favored approach. When you roll an action using your favored approach, you cannot roll worse than Mediocre (+0). This is a simple, elegant way of reinforcing species flavor without burdening a FAE game with a heavy mandatory rule.

Being a fantasy setting, Aether Sea presents the obligatory magic system. The rules here seem flexible, but the presentation is confusing. The distinctions between dabbling in a school and focusing, and between raw magic and prepared spells, are muddy. Having read the magic section a few times, I'm still not sure how many stunts I need to do a particular effect, whether I need an aspect, and just why permanent magic is so expensive from a player resource perspective as opposed to being expensive in the fiction.

And being a space setting, Aether Sea also presents rules for creating ships. Ships have the same approaches characters have, though they are rated between Poor (-1) and Average (+1). Crew add the ship's approach to their own when making actions using the ship's stations. Each character shares an aspect with the ship as well. This is an odd arrangement, as the examples given are clearly features of the ship but they appear on the character's sheet also. It is especially problematic when taking an extreme consequence for the ship changes the character's aspect as well. Finally, ships have a Resources stress track (using the Wealth rules from the Fate System Toolkit) and a size category (using the Scale rules).

The book ends with a sample adventure, "It's Only an Elven Moon." This is a linear adventure in which the PCs are unwittingly caught up in a terrorist plot and must sort out which side to come down on.

Like previous Worlds, The Aether Sea includes fantastic illustrations, this time by John Alvarez Vita, and a clean layout by +Fred Hicks. The writing is generally good, although there are points where the folksy voice is distracting. Overall, the setting presents some fine ideas. If you're a fan of the old Spelljammer setting for Dungeons & Dragons or the animated adventure film Treasure Planet, you will enjoy The Aether Sea.


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