I Guess It’s FATE’d to be Added

Don't Mess With Me or I'll Shove a Lightning Bolt Up Your Ass!

I recently have become an addict to the Harry Dresden books. I’m half way through the 3rd book already and I only started the series last week. NEEERRRDDDDD.. *cough*

Anyways, the books have reignited the spark in my being to run an urban fantasy horror game, set in either the Anita Blake world (minus all the weird porn) or in the Harry Dresden world.

That is still up for debate.

Now I know that there is a Dresden Files RPG and that it uses the FATE system. So I went to and downloaded FATE 2.0 and gave it a thorough look through.

Now something about FATE hits my Narrative Gaming Core and I love it. I especially love Aspects. They strike close to Beliefs and Instincts in Mouse Guard and anyone who regularly reads my lil annoying rash of a blog knows I dig that very much.

Now FATE is a damned cool system, however I don’t know if I dig all of it. I really don’t care for the ladder and “condition” descriptors. I can (now this is my opinion, so put down the pitch forks) almost feel a THACO kinda problem from it.

Ok Susan you want to hack a computer using your computer knowledge skill? Ok, you have a good in that skill, so you need to roll me your 4d6. The computer DC is a great (digital age and all), so roll your check and remember that minuses cancel out positives and then take what remains and either add or subtract from your own base skill of good and don’t forget to use the ladder to find out your final condition descriptor. Oh and don’t forget that you need to tell me HOW successful or unsuccessful you were, here on dubbed Margin of Success (MoS) and Margin of Failure (MoF). You roll yet Susan? Susan?

Susan’s eyes have rolled back in her head and blood is trickling out of her nose.. So sad.

I’ve survived the THACO nightmare, and while FATE isn’t honestly that bad, I have no wish to have to try and explain it every time one of my players roll, or really consult a chart to figure it out..

So FATE is out (at least for now) for the system I want to use.. However.. There is still this whole Aspect business. Oh and the Phase System of Character Creation. Very cool.

So while I kinda don’t like the resolution system of FATE I love the character creation system. It’s simple, abstract, free, and imaginative. I’ve read other people saying this, and I will repeat, I think you have a better ability to create the character you envisioned with FATE than almost any other system.

Explaining Aspects, Phases, and Skills-

You start out with a rough character concept: A rough and tumble Biker that is down on his luck.

The GM then tells each player how many phases there is going to be and also the span of years between each phase. For this example we’ll say that phases start at 15 years old and go every 5 years. There will be a total of 4 phases.

Every phase the character chooses an Aspect and gets 4 skill points. The cool thing about skills and Aspects is that FATE has suggestions but really the player makes up the skill and the Aspect (now I’m not going into the pyramid thinger, especially since I heard they got rid of that in 3.0 and I haven’t read that yet). Every phase you come up with a sentence or two of what happened to your character.

Aspects can be anything from a tagline, an item, a descriptor, etc.

Aspects can be enabled by a player by burning a Fate Point (Benny or Action Point like mechanic) and used to their advantage.

However a GM can enable the same Aspect to get the player into trouble and enhance role-playing. If the GM chooses to do this, the player earns a Fate Point.

Really awesome mechanic for story purposes here. It should also be noted that when a player invokes their aspect they take control of the how the narrative will play out, with GM approval of course. So my example from Phase Two “Gets what he wants, but at a price” as a player I could invoke it to kill a bad guy with an automatic head shot (say his gang is really putting the hurt on us) but as I shoot him he accidentally squeezes off a shot and “critically” wounds me, or his shot kills my brother who is an NPC cohort of mine. Etc etc. Really cool stuff.

Phase One– 15 years old- Jackie Boy ran away from an abusive home at 15. He dropped out from school and lived on the streets and crash with friends.

Aspect: Streetwise.

Phase Two– 20 years old- Jackie Boy realizes life is hard and decides that only the strong survives.

Aspect: Gets what he wants, but at a price.

Phase Three– 25 years old- Jackie Boy becomes involved with a hard crew of bikers, the Devil’s Hand, who own the lower area of town and run drugs and prostitutes.

Aspect: Biker Reputation.

Phase Four– 30 years old- Jackie Boy still rides with the Devil’s Hand, but has been less popular when he badly beat one the lieutenant’s son for messing with Jackie Boy’s girl. Jackie Boy now keeps to himself and drinks heavily.

Aspect: Friends in Low Places.

Each one of those Aspects has tons of role-playing opportunity.

So I’ve been talking with Sir Chuck over at Geek Life Project (who also loves Dresden Files) and we’ve both been thinking about taking the Aspect part of FATE and adding it to pretty much any game we want, so for myself Savage Worlds and Pathfinder.

I really cant’ wait to see how my players enable the Aspects in our current Pathfinder game. Will be interesting!

Author: Mike Evans

I am a History major attending a community college until I can get more financial aid and attend a four year school. I am living in NJ with my girlfriend who is currently wrapping up on obtaining her PhD in Toxicology. I love Star Wars, Role-playing, video games, working out, reading, writing, and hanging with my girlfriend, dog (Perfect), and two kittens (Birch and Brambles). My main focus on this site will be my discussion of Role-playing games and ideas and hopefully contribute something worth a damn.

3 thoughts

  1. Fate 2.0 and the Fate of the Dresden Files RPG and Spirit of the Century are a bit different. From my understanding the Fate engine was tweaked for Spirit of the Century and refined even more for Dresden. Supposedly, Evil Hat is going to update the core Fate system to Fate 3.0. You might check out the Spirit of the Century SRD to see how Fate 3.0 is different from Fate 2.0, even though it will be applied to a pulp themed game.

  2. I think your description of the roll is a bit… uncharitable. While technically all those elements are there, and you need to know them, from a player stand point it’s just making it more complicated sounding than you need to. 4d6, (technically it’s 4dFATE since it’s not really 1-6, but -1, 0, 1) add that up and add your skill and see what the value is. Relative levels of success and official terminology don’t really matter for the roll itself.

    And as was said technicality FATE is at 3.0, with the Dresden Files and SotC being prime examples of it. While Evil Hat hasn’t officially released the core 3.0 rules you can take a look at http://voidstar.squarespace.com/strands-of-fate/ for a pretty generic version, designed to be a toolkit to use FATE 3.0 for whatever system you wanted to use.

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