RPG Review: Young Centurions


Young Centurions is an implementation of the Fate Accelerated RPG which I reviewed here a few weeks back.

Young Centurions is a prequel to Evil Hat's first Fate RPG, Spirit of the Century. In both games the premise is on the first day of every century, at the stroke of midnight, are born a bunch of heroes, Centurions, who will embody some aspect of the spirit of the upcoming century. They aren't superheroes, but they are definitely a cut above your regular person. They make things happen, whether as inventors, psychics, explorers, crimefighters, etc. They are opposed by Shadows, their counterparts born on the last day of the previous century. They represent a negative aspect of the new age. Only a fraction of the babies born on these dates become Centurions or Shadows.

Centurions and their counterparts live long lives, to the extent that there will be some who survive long enough to serve as mentors to the next century's Centurions.

Spirit of the Century is a neat game, though you can definitely see Fate going through growing pains as the system which would become Fate Core came into being. It dealt with the Centurions as pulp heroes of the 1930s. Young Centurions takes place from 1913 to 1918, with the characters ranging in age from 12 to 17. There are slightly different lenses, based on American movie ratings - G rated for 12-13 year olds, PG for 14-15, and PG-13 for 16-17. In all of them, with the protagonists as kids, the advice is to avoid gunfights, with guns at best being used to do 3 or the 4 Fate actions - create an advantage, defend, and overcome (like shoot open a lock) - with the advice being to avoid using them for the attack action. Similarly, while the Shadows are nemeses, they are not yet the black hats they will become in Spirit of the Century. The game itself is designed so it could be played by either adults or kids.

To be honest, I'm not 100% sure I could see myself running a game of this. I'm not sure my group of young to middle aged adults could pull off being adolescents and while I do have one daughter who might be interested, I'm not certain the era would particularly appeal to her. But even if I never run it, it's money that was well spent as it takes the Fate Accelerated game and shows how it could be realized in a full game. I don't mean to say the rules are any different - there's really only one new rule, a special century stunt, which instead of a +2 bonus or being used once per game gives a +3 bonus or can be used twice per game. That's it. Other than that, the games are identical. But.... And this is a huge but - Young Centurions is loaded with examples, sample characters (Centurions, Shadows, mentors, intelligent apes, etc.), information on the era, sample stunts, advice for the tone, etc. It's sort of a "oh, that's how they do it" sort of book.

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