What is FATE?


FATE is a roleplaying system that’s being used by many games right now. It’s probably the most “mainstream” indie system since it has spread between several companies and games, and has grown quite a lot since it’s roots on the FUDGE system.

But, How does it work?

There are two important core mechanics that define the system and make it awesome. The first of them is called The ladder.

The Ladder


This represents the degrees of everything that goes on in the game (from skills to difficulties) and it’s read using both the adjective and the value, with MEDIOCRE (0) as the base value. Anything above mediocre (0) is somewhat challenging, or represents training in a particular skill, and anything beneath is ridiculously easy or a big flaw in your character (like a mute zombie barbarian with Terrible(-2) social skills)

I’d like to take a moment here to point out one of the things I love about Fate: the Ladder is universal to every Fate game, which means that all the games operate on more or less the same scale. This makes it really easy to pull parts of one Fate game and plug them into another with only minor difficulty.

The Dice


 While the competences of the characters vary a lot (from gritty to over the top pulp heroes), the ladder always remains the same, making it easy to judge difficulties and power from game to game.

Aspects and Fate Points

The second core mechanic are aspects and fate points.

Aspects are basically descriptions that you stick to anything in the game so you can use them without creating specific rules for every interaction or quirk. Things like “Fast” for a car, “Slippery” for a floor, “Falls in love easily” for a character, etc. They represent the real meat of any stat block, the few lines that make whatever it is you’re stating an actual, dynamic part of the world and the game.

Fate points are the currency in which you pay your use of these aspects, or are rewarded by their use against you. Fate points and Aspects are used in five simple ways:

Invoking: By paying a FATE point you can, after a roll, use your character’s aspect it it relates to the action taking place, in order to gain a +2 bonus for it, or re-roll the dice. A single aspect can only be Invoked once for each action, but you can invoke several if they apply.


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Dungeon Planet Campaign


Image by Angel Alonso

Cast of Characters:

  • Lleaf, a brilliant and idealistic human Technician
  • Korax, a strong and courageous Earthling from ancient Greece
  • Daneel, a good hearted and helpful Android who was built to Destroy
  • Angela (name not decided yet), an opportunistic and talented psychic Mutant pilot

Korax was one day inexplicably teleported to a barren and hostile alien world where he was promptly captured by a band of space pirates, one of whom was Angela. He was sold off to a Slave Master in the Barbossa Nebula – a popular hangout of space pirates and privateers.

In his cell he quickly befriended the robot Daneel who aided the strange Earthling in his discovery of such a bizarre world. Daneel shared his desire to find out what his maker built him for: if he was indeed just supposed to destroy, then why program him with a longing to help others? He also shared a mysterious hologram imprinted into his circuitry: that of a strange symbol unknown to anyone.

Lleaf, who was preparing for an exploratory journey through space in search of the mysterious Cosmic Key, decided to venture into the Barbossa Nebula to hire a competent pilot (Angela) a useful robot (Daneel) and a body-guard (Korax). The latter hire was done at the insistence of Daneel, who assured his new owner and master that she’d need protection on her journey and that Korax would be perfect because of his good nature and strong arm.

Back on board her vessel, Lleaf explained her mission to the crew: to find an ancient source of great power built by an extinct civilization. This advanced race had left clues all over the galaxy to allow others to find their homeworld and the location of this mystical artifact. If her theories are correct, this device, once activated properly by a talented scientist (like herself) would become a mystical beacon throughout the galaxy. It would change everything: space travel would become safe, amazingly swift and no one would ever get lost again.

She went on to explain that the device channels a great big net or web that glows through all the Dark Matter in the Universe. It is like an enourmously powerful Dark Star that creates anti-matter gravity so great that it creates a beacon of invisible light that anyone (with the proper device) to navigate the stars.

This would end the tyranny of the Warp Guild (a giant, corrupt organization of Dynastic mutant psychics who monopolize space travel). It would also make space safer for travellers by helping them avoid dangerous zones and pirate ridden Worm Holes. This discovery would free everyone in the galaxy.

Lleaf must travel from planet to planet in search of these alien ruins for further clues. Each site has a piece of a puzzle to a star map that will point out the exact system and planet that they must go to. The problem is that she doesn’t exactly know where to start.

Later that evening, while repairing Daneel (dust and scratches from the hostile prison) she activated the hologram and saw that the symbol matched up with her research papers because it was a constellation of stars! Even more strangely, the symbol matched up with one on Angela’s mysterious black armor.

Knowing which specific solar systems to explore, Lleaf set off with her new crew far more confidently. Her only fear was that her rival, the evil Techno-Mage [name needed] would beat her to it. She knew that his/her reasons for finding the Cosmic Key were far less philanthropic. His/her intention was to use it as a terrible weapon that could manipulate dark matter in destructive ways.

She also had to be wary of the Warp Guild, which feared the loss of their monopoly on space travel. They would do anything to stop her or to find the Cosmic Key first. Unfortunately, [nemesis name] has partnered with the Guild and is using their resources to help him/her.

The race is on… and the fate of the Galaxy hangs in the balance…