FATE Basics

This is a roleplaying game is based on a system called FATE, which is itself an implementation of Fudge. It’s intended to emphasise collaborate storytelling rather than tactical wargaming, although this does not have to be at the expense of colourful and entertaining fight scenes.

FATE is designed as a face-to-face tabletop game, although this implementation is optimised for online play via email or message boards. It’s very much human moderated and text-based rather than a computer RPG.

To play you need half-a-dozen or more players, one of whom must take the role of GM (Games Master or Game Moderator), the rest of whom create characters. All of this will be explained in far more detail in the following chapters.

The Fate Ladder and Fudge Dice

The ladder is an adjective-based scale used to rate both skills and difficulties.

  • Abysmal (-3 or worse)
  • Terrible (-2)
  • Poor (-1)
  • Mediocre (0)
  • Average (+1)
  • Fair (+2)
  • Good (+3)
  • Great (+4)
  • Superb (+5)
  • Legendary (+6 or better)

Fudge Dice are six-sided dice (or their electronic equivalent) with two faces marked with “+”, two marked “-” and two blank. To make a skill roll, you roll four of them; each plus moves you one step up the ladder, and each minus moves you down one. So if your skill is Good, and you roll two plusses, one minus and one blank, the result is Great. Making skill rolls are explained in more detail in the gameplay chapter.

Skills and Stunts

Skills are things your character can do. Unlike some games, FATE doesn’t distinguish between innate attributes and learned skills, all are treated in exactly the same way. All skills are rated using the adjective-based ladder, so when a character has good strength, is a great swordsman, but has poor willpower, you know exactly what it means.

Skills are quite broad in application, and stunts let you define specialisations and other abilities that go beyond the basics. The character generation chapter explains both skills in more detail.

Aspects and FATE Points

Aspects and the so-called “Fate Point Economy” are core concepts of FATE. Aspects are short phrases or keywords that help define your character, things like “Belligerent drunk“, “Best swordsman in the city” or “Has friends in high places“. Other characters, locations and scenes all have aspects as well, and you can make use of these in play. FATE points are the resource pool you can use in conjunction with Aspects, in the following ways.

  • You invoke an aspect of your own by paying a FATE point to gain a +2 bonus to whatever you’re attempting to do. The aspect has to be relevant to the situation in some way.
  • You tag an aspect belonging to another character, the scene or the location in exactly the same way.
  • You (or more likely the GM) compels an aspect whenever it causes interesting complications in play. When this happens you gain a FATE point, which you can later spend for invokes or tags.

It’s also possible to bring new aspects into play.

  • An assessment is the use of a skill to reveal an aspect of another character or the scene. This is an aspect created by the GM, which might have been decided in advance, or made up on the spot. An example might be using social or investigative skills to find out something significant about a target.
  • A declaration is similar to an assessment, except the player rather than the GM creates the aspect. This allows the players to participate in fleshing out the world.
  • A manoeuvre creates an aspect in-game, either on the scene, another character, or yourself. This can happen a lot on combat, placing things like “on higher ground” on yourself or “disarmed” on your opponent. Makes fight scenes far more colourful than “I hit him with my sword” five times in a row.

You can tag these aspects just like any other aspect, except that the first tag is free, i.e you don’t have to pay a FATE point for it.

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