A rundown on FATE

Basics

Ok guys, here’s how it’s gonna be.

The primary mechanic of the FATE system is Fudge dice and the ladder. Basically, there’s a ladder describing outcomes (from + 8, or Legendary, to -2, or Terrible). Your skills (and the target number needed to do stuff) are described based on the ladder, and the dice move you up and down the ladder.

So if you’re Good (+ 3) at Athletics, and you roll a total of -2, you only put in an Average (+ 1) performance at the shot-put. But if you rolled + 2 instead, you did a Superb (+5) job!

That’s the basics, but there’s a lot more.

Aspects And Fate Points

There are, of course, ways to change your fate. These come handily in the form of Fate Points. You can spend a Fate Point to get a +1 bonus to any roll, but that’s by far the least efficient way to use them.

See, you’ve also got Aspects. In fact, everything does, from people to places to scenes. And if you can figure out a way that an Aspect applies positively to what you’re doing, you can spend a Fate Point to Invoke that aspect.

By doing that, you can either gain a +2 bonus to your skill roll, or re-roll the whole damn thing. Keep in mind, all this happens after you’ve already rolled, so no need to waste points speculatively.

How about an example? Crawford McCormick is being interrogated by some local toughs, and has to hold out until backup arrives. This requires a Discipline roll, and Crawford is only Mediocre (+ 0) at Discipline! He rolls, and sure enough, he only gets a + 1, for a total of Average (+ 1). Luckily, Crawford has the aspect Belligerent Wiseass. He spends a Fate Point to invoke it for a + 2 bonus, and suddenly his discipline has shot up to Good (+ 3)!

You can also invoke aspects on other people, places and things. For instance, if you know (or have guessed) that an enemy has an aspect along the lines of Bum Knee From Years On The Force, you could invoke that aspect to get a +2 on your attempt to, well, break his knee.

However, Aspects have another use. The GM (that’s me!) can offer a Fate Point to Compel an aspect. What this means is that your options are limited by an aspect of your character. For instance, after Crawford is freed and the toughs have escaped, I might Compel his Vengeance Complex aspect to make him chase after them, rather than get the medical attention he so richly needs.

You’re free to refuse a Compel and give up the Fate Point it would bring, but to do so you must PAY a Fate Point. In essence, it takes a lot out of you to go against your nature that way.

You can also simply act according to an aspect, and then bring it to my attention, in order to gain a Fate Point. This is called a Self-Compel, and it means less work for me, so I suggest you indulge in it heartily.

Fate Points have more uses still. You can Invoke For Effect, essentially invoking an aspect you have to make something true about the world. If you have the Local Hero aspect, for instance, you could invoke that to get special treatment from the newspaper editor, allowing you access to information before it goes to press.

And finally, there’s a special case: Tagging Aspects. If you place an aspect on something, you can immediately (read, fairly quickly) invoke that aspect for FREE. No fate point expenditure required. More on how to do that… right now.

Skills

Skills have a variety of uses, naturally, and they’re mostly covered in the book. However, here are a few of the less obvious ones:

Assessments: You may use skills such as Empathy, Scholarship or Investigation to discover things. This includes Aspects. You could, for instance, use Empathy to discover the aspect Major Daddy Issues on a socialite, or Investigation to realize that the building has the Rigged To Blow aspect. You could even use Guns to realize that the so-called “cold blooded killer” has a gun that’s loaded with beanbag rounds.

Declarations: You can also use a skill to straight up make shit up. For instance, you could use Investigation to “notice” that the janitor left a bucket of water in the hallway, just after the fire’s started.

Keep in mind, both Assessments and Declarations can fail. The GM sets a difficulty, and you roll it. If you fail, well, that declaration just ain’t true, or you can’t suss anything out in the time allotted. Them’s the breaks, kids.

Combat

Combat has a special set of rules, like most systems.

Initiative: The person with the highest Alertness goes first, then the second highest, etc. In case of a tie, it’s broken with another skill, determined by the type of conflict.

Zones: Zones are highly abstract measurements of distance. Depending on the scale, a zone could be part of a room or an entire parking lot. But the basics are the same: you can make a melee attack against anyone in the same Zone as you, you can shoot anyone in the next zone with a pistol, and you can shoot someone up to two zones away with a rifle.

Actions: You get one Basic Action per turn.

Attack: Attacking is fairly simple: you roll to attack, they roll to defend, and if you rolled higher the difference goes on their sheet as Stress. If you tie, they don’t take any stress, but you connected (sometimes that makes a difference). Weapons add to the amount of Stress you deal, but ONLY if you connect. If you have a shotgun (Weapon 3), and you have a Guns skill of + 2, you still only get a +2 to hit. But even if you tie their defense roll, they still take 3 additional Stress. Armor, conversely, reduces the amount of stress inflicted by their rating.

Stress works like this: If you would take stress, and cannot because your bar’s full, you’re taken out. However, you can mitigate stress by taking Consequences. Consequences are aspects, with all that entails.

A Mild Consequence takes the place of 2 Stress, and last for one scene after recovery starts. Bruised Hand, Nasty Shiner, and Winded are all examples of Mild Consequences.

A Moderate Consequence cancels out 4 stress, and they last until the end of the session after recovery begins. Bad First Degree Burn, Twisted Ankle, and Totally Exhausted all work as moderate consequences.

Severe Consequences cancel out 6 stress, and they last two to three sessions. Broken Leg, Bad Second Degree Burn, and Trauma-Induced Phobia all work for Severe Consequences.

Maneuver: You can roll against an enemy to add a temporary aspect to them. This can be as simple as rolling athletics to place the “sand in eyes” aspect on them (always a classic) or as complex as rolling guns to put the “pinned underneath a sandbag” aspect on them. You can also maneuver to put aspects on yourself, such as “behind cover,” or on the environment (“On Fire” is the classic).

Block: You can preemptively defend against an action by Blocking. You roll a skill, and anyone trying to perform the action you indicate when initiating the Block must roll against your result to even attempt it.

Sprint: You can attempt to move between zones.

You can also take Supplemental Actions. These are actions which aren’t big enough to be main actions, but could impede you if you try to do them in addition to a main action. Moving one zone while shooting at someone is an example.

They’re resolved as such: if you take a supplemental action, you also take a -1 penalty to your main action. That’s it.

A rundown on FATE

A Hard Rain stubbmann