May 252013

Fate Core CoverFAE cover

Fate Core and Fate Accelerated have gone up for open preorder today, with the books set to ship in mid-July. There are both print versions available in preorder, and “pay what you like” PDF downloads available.

If you’d like to “pay what you like” (including free) without having to interact with the store software, send your contribution via Paypal to and then download your PDFs of choice (or vice-versa):

Not every part of the Fate Core/FAE experience is launching today. Our target is July for releasing the rest: epub and mobi file format support, and the release of the text of both Core and FAE under both the Open Game License and a Creative Commons attribution (CC-BY) license. These texts are NOT released under those terms yet — but they will be, and they’ll remain free. We’ll also introduce the “Powered by Fate” logo for use on your Core and FAE derived products.

Stay tuned!

 Posted by at 2:56 pm
Jun 152011

In the past week I’ve had two different third-party publishers asking me if I know any freelancers who are available  and are wise to the ways of Fate.

But the people who I could list confidently are either already working on stuff for Evil Hat — or they’re already working on their own projects. So “available” not so much.

In light of that, I want to put this call out for people who are available and are confident enough in their knowledge of Fate that they’d be willing to take on some freelancing work!

In the comments below, please introduce yourself, tell us how to contact you, what kind of experience you bring to the table, and where we can find samples of your work. Please include all three, as that’s crucial for any interested publisher I point in this direction. (I may block comments which don’t fit the bill.)

I’d like this post to become a central resource for folks looking to do the work and for folks looking for those folks. :) Help me out!

 Posted by at 5:10 pm
Jan 312014

Are you translating or have you translated Fate Core, Fate Accelerated, or Fate System Toolkit into a language other than English? We’d like to make sure folks (and us, too) know about it!

Please fill out this form to tell us about your translation efforts.

We’re making the results public so folks can find them as quickly and easily as possible. It’ll just take a few minutes to fill out and can bring more attention to your translation. Let us know, and thanks!

 Posted by at 11:18 am
Sep 232013

I’ve been seeing some discussion, off and on, about Fate Core System and Fate Accelerated Edition. I’ll call them Core and FAE in this post, because it’s Sunday and I am lazy. I figured I’d chime in on the discussion, because I’m discovering that I have some opinions about it.

Also, this is just one guy’s opinion. There are a lot of people out there better equipped than I am to do this kind of analysis.[1]

I don’t really think of FAE as a separate entity from Core. It’s a build of Core, as Fred Hicks says, and I agree with him. FAE is what happens when you open the big Core toolbox and pull together the socket wrench set, the allen keys, and the WD-40, and toss in an old voltmeter you found in the back closet. It even still has both lead cables, so we’re in business.

But FAE does behave a bit differently than Core as expressed in the game’s example settings. Why is that? Yes, stunt templates and single stress track, but really it comes down to the difference between FAE’s approaches and Core’s skills. This might seem like arbitrary jargon, but it’s not—it points to a very real difference in what they represent.

The major difference is that skills describe what problems you can solve, while approaches describe how you solve problems.

The standard approaches in FAE (Forceful, Quick, Careful, Clever, Sneaky, and Flashy) are things everyone can do. They don’t tell you anything all that unusual about your character in terms of your competence – your capabilities tend to be assumed based on genre and setting conventions. Characters in a Star Wars campaign can drive speeders and operate computers and shoot blasters. You don’t need an aspect to justify it, it’s just part of the setting. This means you need to make sure everyone is on the same page regarding these assumptions, especially if some players are less familiar with the setting.

If you have a capability outside the norm for your setting, take an aspect to reflect it. You probably need a Force-related aspect to be a Jedi in a Star Wars game, for example, because not all the characters in Star Wars have access to using the Force. All this adds up to FAE having a tighter focus on aspects than Core tends to have.

Another consequence of aspect + setting-driven competence in FAE is that gradations of competence aren’t important. If you’re a hacker, you’re a hacker; you won’t find out who the better hacker is by looking at the character sheet.[2]

Approaches, while they don’t say much about how good you are with a longbow or how much you know about the lore of faerie, pretty obviously tell you something about your character’s personality. Of course you’ll look for ways to use your character’s highly rated approaches—that Flashy +3 or Forceful +2, over your Sneaky +0. And that’s OK—real people do that, don’t they? They’re almost aspects in themselves—invokable and compellable with a fate point. Hm.[3]

That said, something I wish I’d stated more strongly in the FAE text is that sometimes the GM has to push a bit to make sure that the approach the player is choosing to use not only matches the fiction they describe, but is effective at all. Sometimes, circumstances demand that you be sneaky; nothing else will do.

Which brings up the issue of short skill lists vs. approaches.

Approaches aren’t just a short skill list—remember, approaches tell you how you do things, not what you can do. Short skill lists are a fascinating topic for another post [4], but for now, just keep in mind that not every Fate game with a short skill list is trying to be an implementation of FAE. If you specifically want to use approaches for your game, and you want a list that’s different than the FAE default list, make sure you stick with descriptions of manner—i.e., how you do things—not things like D&D stats (as in Fate Freeport Companion) or roles (such as D&D classes or Leverage Hitter-Hacker-Thief-etc. roles). While those may be distinct from skills as well, they’ll play differently than approaches.

I guess I don’t really have a conclusion here, so I’m going to sum up what I see as the big differences between FAE and Core:

  • FAE approaches tell you how, Core skills tell you what.
  • FAE requires a firm shared understanding of genre assumptions.
  • FAE emphasizes aspects to a larger degree than Core.
  • FAE doesn’t model fine degrees of difference in competence.
  • Approaches can reveal aspects of personality.
  • All approaches are useable by everyone, which feels different than the Core skill list.

[Editor: For further reading on this topic, check out Christopher Ruthenbeck’s take on the differences.]

[1] Seriously, if you’re a gamer and not reading Rob Donoghue at, well, I suppose you probably have a reason for that. I hope it’s a good one. (back)

[2] Stunts can further refine competence, but they work in largely the same way for FAE as for Core. Also, I’m least interested in stunts of all Fate mechanical bits, so I’ll ignore them here. (back)

[3] Hack point here! (back)

[4] I’m totally going to write that post too, but not today. (back)

 Posted by at 11:54 am
Aug 252013

Right around the time Spirit of the Century was published — maybe a little later, but if so not by much — Evil Hat stopped writing Fate as FATE. In essence, as Fate 3.0 came about (starting with Spirit of the Century), the old acronym the system had started with (first “Fudge Adventures in Tabletop Entertainment” and then “Fantastic Adventures in Tabletop Entertainment”), carrying up through Fate 2.x, stopped being a part of the name.

Old habits die hard, though. For the past 7 years many folks have continued to insist on writing Fate as FATE. It’s not “correct”, but it doesn’t really matter that that’s so. If folks want to write it that way for their own purposes, knock yourselves out. But if you want to portray it in a way that’s consistent with the official name as conveyed by Evil Hat: it’s Fate.

And now you know!

 Posted by at 8:44 am
Jun 112013

Powered-by-Fate-Final-Dark-BG1.pngThe licensing options for Fate—AND the system reference documents for Fate Core and Fate Accelerated—are live!

You can find our home for Fate Core derived licensing here:

We’re offering the text of Fate Core and Fate Accelerated under two different open licensing schemes: the tried-and-true Open Game License (OGL), and a Creative Commons Attribution Unported license (CC-BY). This was made possible by the generous funding of backers through the Fate Core kickstarter campaign, and our efforts in developing Fate Core as a written-from-the-ground-up, entirely-our-own-text version of Fate.

Visit the licensing page to get started. There, you’ll find a quick overview of each license, our new Powered by Fate logo for use by third party publishers, and the Fate Core Glyphs font for those of you who want to use the “four actions” icons developed for Fate Core.

Drill down into the individual licensing pages for specific details on how to make use of each license. You’ll also find the license-specific system reference documents on those drill-down pages.

We’re pleased as ever to continue our commitment to keeping Fate’s text free for use by third party publishers for both personal and commercial use, and we can’t wait to see what folks have in store for this new era of the Fate system. Bring it on, folks—and thank you!

 Posted by at 6:52 pm
May 282013

This post was triggered by a conversation in the Fate Core community on Google+, started by Ian O’Rourke.

I’ve heard a few folks expressing concerns that players in a Fate Accelerated (FAE) game are constantly going after their +2/+3 approaches to the exclusion of the others. Essentially: Players are creative, and they’re great at rationalizing one of their higher-ranked approaches in avoidance of the others — what am I to do?

First off, I’ll say quickly that I don’t consider that to be an actual problem. If fun is had, and players get the satisfaction of solving the puzzle of how to apply their characters’ best abilities, I’m not sure there’s all that much trouble in paradise. The only zone of consideration where this becomes an actual problem, for me, is if that starts to feel like something that’s boring. Gameplay should reliably produce fun: if fun is getting sapped out, something does need to be done.

Short of that? All is functioning as intended. We see plenty of times in fiction where our heroes figure out a way to tackle the problem that’s surprising and unusual and just so happens to apply their abilities at their most effective. And Fate, after all, is a fiction simulator. So: that.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t tools in the toolbox to apply when the it feels like characters are taking a less optimal approach (ha) by twisting things to focus on using that high rank.

FAE itself talks about using approach-based difficulties for some tasks. Simply put, this is the GM setting the difficulty slider at different levels depending on the approach used to get the job done. Picking a lock might be a Careful activity right front and center, of only Fair difficulty. You want to pick that lock Forcefully (also known as kicking the door down)? That’s more like a Great. Makes sense, and follows fiction we already know.

That example happens to point out something David Goodwin said over on Google+ — the approach the player selects colors how the action is performed. You may want to do something quietly using anything other than Sneaky, but you’re most likely going to make noise using that other approach. So if a player is choosing an approach other than what you’d expect as the “solution” for the problem at hand, take the time to talk this out: how does using that other atypical approach change the nature of the solution? Rolling a boulder to block a mountain pass might be a Forceful action when you put your back into it, but if you’re going for Clever instead, you probably needed to find the right lever and fulcrum first.

And that reveals another tool for this particular toolbox, something I offered over on the Google+ thread: approach-based costs. Instead of changing the difficulty — that’s not always an option — consider the price of using the somewhat less applicable approach. Going back to our locked door, if you’re Careful or Sneaky about it, you can probably get past that lock without anyone realizing you’ve done so. A Forceful or Flashy approach, on the other hand, probably means the door can’t be locked again. Your passage will be marked. Similarly, you might keep an ally on your side if you’re Clever or Sneaky about getting information from them, but if you go for Quick or Forceful, you’re likely being rude or outright scary in your pursuit of the truth. Bridges will be burned.

Finally, if you’re simply looking to encourage a player to take the least optimal path once in a while, maybe it’s time to bust out an approach-triggered compel, assuming you have an applicable aspect at hand. “You have In Love With The Prince and you’re trying to gain the King’s aid, so it makes sense that you’d decide to impress him by doing something Flashy (your +0 approach).” This is tricky territory, though; that phrasing in quotes is supposed to continue with a “This goes wrong when…” chaser, and rolling that very suboptimal approach has to count as something that “goes wrong”. Use such techniques lightly and sparingly, as typically a compel is a flag that it’s time to set aside the dice. And you could — and perhaps should — do that here, in fact: assume failure, and have fun with the results. Even though that other approach hasn’t been rolled, it has been highlighted, and that’s part of the goal.

How do you handle “one note approach” behaviors in FAE games at your table?

 Posted by at 1:51 pm
May 272013

Over on Google+, Christopher Ruthenbeck asked a question about handling absolutes in Fate Core. Read the thread for full context. Here’s an edited/expanded/altered excerpt of my response to it.

Absolutes are tricky. They’re the least gameable thing we might adopt from our inspirations in fiction. And they’re often something that can’t really be trusted. “This here’s absolutely true,” our television or book series tells us in one episode. Then a few episodes pass, and suddenly we find out there’s an “except…” The cloaking field is absolute, except when a particularly clever opponent figures out a way to look at secondary signs of the presence of a cloaked vehicle. Etc.

But let’s proceed with the notion that an absolute is desirable in our game.

What is an absolute? It’s an unavoidable outcome, something that in a success vs. failure scenario either eliminates the possibility of success, or eliminates the possibility of failure. Ah, yes. And there’s the crux of it, that “vs”.

Absolutes for me typically reduce into the same ur-example: the fall to the death. The players must make their climbing roll successfully, or they fall to their death. Except that sucks and is anticlimactic and as such should actually never be on the table in the first place. There is no success vs. failure there. This is an absolute for our purposes: crossing the chasm must be a success, full stop.

Fate Core already gives us a tool for handling this situation: success vs. success at a cost. If you don’t succeed, you still succeed, but you pay a price to do so: You make it across the chasm, but you’ve lost valuable time, your important widget fell into the lightless depths below, whatever.

So for our “100% no-fail cloaking device” absolute, how do we apply that tool? We apply it to the attempt to hide: successful hiding vs successful hiding at a cost. Essentially, working like this: if the enemy WOULD detect you — thereby implying failure of your attempt to hide — you can instead treat your failed attempt as success at a cost.

Working out what the “at a cost” is is the real sticky wicket. Failure’s off the table, so don’t let it distract you at all.

When an absolute is considered palatable for your game — it won’t be for everyone — this suggests a class of “absolute-validating stunt” that you can work into your extras or power set or what have you. Like this:

Absolute Cloaking Field: You can’t fail at attempts to hide. If the rolls indicate you would have failed, you may instead choose to succeed at a cost. Costs could include: draining all power from the ship’s systems; losing valuable time that you can’t afford to lose; etc.

Depending on your taste, this sort of stunt could be completely off the table; on the table as a standard option; on the table but only for certain kinds of skills; on the table but at a higher than one refresh cost; etc. I leave the pricing as an exercise for a specific table and its tastes.

What other absolutes could we apply this to? An invulnerable foe who always succeeds at defense rolls, only the cost of that success is sometimes quite nasty? Perhaps. It’s probably best applied to circumstances that would normally be a succeed/fail Overcome Obstacle roll, but depending on how far you’re willing to push the system it could potentially work its way into the other of the four actions too.

What absolutes do you want to put in your Fate game? And how would you build them, given this?

 Posted by at 9:13 am
Apr 182013

The following is a guest post from Fate Core community member Richard Bellingham. Richard caught our attention early on during the Fate Core kickstarter for his efforts to understand how blocking and obstacles work in Fate Core. We asked him to write up his notes to give y’all another perspective on the concepts involved. What follows is the result! (He’s from across the way, so he spells “maneuver” “manoeuvre”, but we’re sure you’ll find it in your heart to forgive him for that. Or us. Depending.)

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 7:04 pm
Apr 122013

The terms “block” and “border” may be gone from Fate Core, but as concepts they’re alive and well in the new edition of Fate. In fact, they’re more exciting and more streamlined than before.

This will be a “quick sketch” post, rather than a deep discussion of the matter, making some assumptions that folks reading it have already read Fate Core (via the Kickstarter or, later on, after its release) and are wondering where blocks and borders went.

Where did they go, anyway? Create Advantage is where.

Let’s suppose I’m a pyromancer, facing off against a ice-slinger and his buddies, and that me and my foe both are using a quick magic system involving a skill roll.

I’ve got the drop on them, but I know they could overrun me, and I have someone with me I’m looking to protect, so I’ve got to think fast. A wall of fire feels like something that would do the trick, and they’re not close enough to me to interfere, so I go for an easy, quick, Create Advantage roll with my magic. I make the roll, an easy success.

Bam! Now there’s a Wall of Fire aspect on the situation, and I’ve got a free invoke on it besides (or two, if I succeed with style—I’ve got a good shot at that, so let’s say I did). I’m dropping the wall on the zone I’m in, since I’ve got escape in mind and I’m hoping it’ll interfere with my aggressors.

Iceguy slings a face full of ice shards at my friend-in-need, figuring if he can take him down, an escape is kinda moot.

Here’s the block moment: I previously established that Wall of Fire aspect, right? And it’s reasonable to say that the Wall would interfere with such an attack on my friend. There are a couple options I have here.

The presence of the aspect that I created provides justification for me to roll a defense against that attack. (EDIT: A change of procedure follows. Original post incorrectly suggested the original target could roll as well in such a case.) When I make that decision, I’m essentially stepping into the way of the attack myself. I’ll be rolling my magic instead of my friend rolling his defense, and if I win that roll, the attack doesn’t land (and if I don’t, it hits me; maybe I narrate that as some kind of magic backlash if so). I’m also positioned to make use of one of those free invokes on Wall of Fire if I want to improve my defense roll.

My second option, if I don’t want to get in the way of the attack myself, is that I can at least use those free invokes to improve my friend’s defense roll, since I can invoke an aspect to increase the opposition/difficulty faced by a foe.

Either way, let’s say the Wall does the job, and those shards vanish in a few puffs of steam. I tell my friend to hoof it, and square off in the interests of buying some time before I follow after. (Let’s also say I did get in the way, and rolled well enough, so I don’t have to burn my free invokes yet.)

My friend burns his action on a sprint to get the heck out of dodge, and thankfully there’s nothing that’s been established to interfere with his escape route.

Then my opponent’s goon-friends get to go. They come at me, but I’ve established there’s a Wall of Fire on this zone, standing between me and my frosty foes.

Here’s the border moment: First off, the GM can look at that Wall of Fire and say “normally it’s no difficulty to move over to Fred, but there’s a Wall of Fire there, so you’ll have to roll to close with him” and then set a difficulty for anyone to cross over that thing. It’ll probably be a modest one (perhaps just Average) unless I step in there and make it a bigger deal.

I can, of course: those free invokes will let me increase the difficulty of anything reasonably affected by the aspect, +2 apiece. I could take that Average traversal difficulty up to Superb if I’m willing to cash in both free invokes (assuming both haven’t been used already) as they approach. (The GM might rightly insist I have to increase the difficulty separately for each goon’s attempt, but I check and she’s treating both goons as a single character for ease and speed.)

It would also be reasonable to say that I can do some more blocking here; that Wall of Fire gives me justification to Defend against their Overcome rolls to move towards me.

Whatever the case, it turns out I don’t need to spend more than one of those free invokes to foul up their approach, tho; they’re not heavy on the Athletics. Good news, because I’m about to bolt, and this keeps everyone else still on the far side of the Wall.

My turn, and I hightail it to the door, trying to catch up with my friend. That’s my action, and I’m out of the warehouse.

Those guys are still set to go after me, and so long as we’re still in the same situation/circumstances, the Wall of Fire will persist. But without me present, it won’t have quite as much teeth. I can’t reasonably defend against anything they want to do against it, because I’m no longer there. But it’ll still provide passive difficulty as set by the GM, and I can still cash in that final free invoke to make that difficulty heftier—maybe saving it to resist an Overcome roll to remove the Wall in the first place. It’s pretty clear they’ll cross the barrier I’ve erected eventually, so the GM decides to simply look at the free invoke and say it’ll buy me another exchange or so of head start to get me and my friend away from the situation.

By moving the special-case language and implementation of the older ideas of blocking and borders into Fate Core’s established, understood aspect mechanisms, the system moves cleanly and quickly from the intent (“I want to throw a Wall of Fire in front of them to buy us some time for an escape!”) into mechanized action (“Okay, roll to Create Advantage”). And then the aspect simply doing what aspects are allowed to do in Core takes over — with all the pizzazz and story-flex that aspects bring to bear, while ditching the somewhat flavorless just-numbers special cases of the borders and blocks of yesterday.

 Posted by at 11:59 am