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.