Feb 202011

As is the nature of any open system, Fate has grown a number of branches over the years. Honestly, not even I have managed to keep track of them all. I’d like to change that, at  least a little, and make sure we catalog them reasonably well here at the site.

I’m starting with this post, which is an off the top of my head accounting of the Fate variants I’m aware of. I am going to omit at least one, I’m sure, and my advance apologies for that.

What I need from you is to “check my work” on this. Tell me about the variants I’ve missed. Help me understand if I’m describing these variants incorrectly, incompletely, or unfairly (within the limits of trying to write these up as 1 to 3 sentence accounts).

Once I feel like the conversation’s gone far enough to get this post’s info finalized (I’ll try to update it as I get comments), I’ll turn it into a more permanent page on the site.


Core Fate (also called Fate 3) – This is the name I use for the main trunk of Fate, the version(s) produced by Evil Hat. While this doesn’t mean that Core Fate is standing still — our own understanding and expression of it evolves over time — it is what we’ll be presenting on this site, and using at the core of any Fate products we produce. Inasmuch as there is an “official” Fate, this is it. Implementations: Spirit of the Century, the Dresden Files RPG.

VSCA Fate – This is Fate as extended by the VSCA crew to create Diaspora. VSCA Fate lives pretty close to Core Fate, though it adds a number of modules (various modes of conflict resolution for different kinds of conflicts) and some concepts (aspect scopes, etc) that I personally quite enjoy. It’s possible that we’ll borrow some of those concepts and bring them back to Core Fate, but I still think there’ll be enough distinctiveness in VSCA’s work to consider it as a slightly separate thing. Implementations: Diaspora.

Cubicle 7 Fate – Cubicle 7’s Fate implementation started from an almost complete absorption of the Spirit of the Century SRD when they put together Starblazer Adventures. There, they also adapted into Fate 3 some concepts that Evil Hat had been talking about during the Fate 2 years, manifesting as the organizations system and the idea of plot stress. Their focus is more on d6-d6 as the dice method, and they’ve added a number of fiddly bits in the implementation of stunt and powers that resembles some of what Evil Hat has done, while being its own thing. C7 Fate and Core Fate can probably cross-pollenate mostly successfully, though as each implementation grows over time I suspect the two flavors will become more distinct. They each certainly come from a different aesthetic, I think, in terms of their design approaches, though at the moment that’s a little hard to quantify. Implementations: Starblazer Adventures, Legends of Anglerre.

Awesome FateAwesome Adventures is Willow Palacek’s effort to pare back Fate to a very lightweight engine, cutting away whole pieces of it, even stuff you might consider essential to the Fate chassis. This is definitely its own beast, but probably a good fit for folks who want to play Fate, but use a version that lives somewhere between Risus and PDQ in terms of simplicity. I’m pleased to see (by looking at the link) that since its original publication it has gotten some improved production values (one of the primary strikes against it when it initially showed up). Implementations: Awesome Adventures.

Strands of FateStrands of Fate is an implementation of Fate created by Void Star publishing. Where Awesome Adventures is an effort to pare Fate down to a leaner thing, Strands goes in the other direction, looking to create a “generic” build of the system that speaks to a more traditionally-minded perspective on RPGs. I’ve heard people quip that it’s “Fate+GURPS”, which is a solid enough description if you’re talking at the level mash-up hollywood movie-pitch dialect, but may sell this thing a bit short. I’ve also heard people express confusion about whether or not Strands is “the” Fate 3.0 book they need, and no, it’s not. I’ve talked with the guy who wrote Strands, and we both agree that it is its own branch, distinct and separate, a deliberate effort to take Fate’s concepts and make them more palatable to folks who find Spirit of the Century to be too “out there”. Implementations: Strands of Fate.

Fate Inspired (a.k.a., Not Fate At All) – I’ve seen people characterize both Houses of the Blooded and ICONS as Fate games. They are both certainly, explicitly Fate-inspired, though, borrowing several concepts from Fate and attaching them to their own original systems. This is fantastic (and you should grab yourself copies of both), but I think it really muddies the waters considerably when folks talk about them as Fate implementations. They are not. EDIT: The excellent Chronica Feudalis belongs in this camp as well.

That’s what I’ve got so far, but I’m very sure I’m missing a few (particularly ones that aren’t for sale). So help me out — what’d I miss? And what more should be said about the above?

Additions from the commenters

One of the things that’s interesting as we’ve been getting comments here and elsewhere is the question of whether some of the missing pieces are “merely” homebrews or are bona fide branches in their own right. In this getting-edited-as-comments-are-made section, I’m choosing not to make a distinction between those two things. That said, in my mind, something grows from a “leaf” into a branch through adoption by players and publishers.

  • Free Fate – The name given by R. Grant Erswell to his condensed combination of the Spirit of the Century and Starblazer Adventures rulesets. Downloadable in PDF form.
  • Fate Basics – This is a pamphlet-sized download going over the basics of Fate as told by Michael Moceri and laid out by Brad Murray of VSCA. Worth a look.
  • Tom’s Spirits – Tom Miskey writes: “Well, there is my own Spirits of Steam and Sorcery and Spirits of Chrome and Cyberspace, both of which are free online (at the FATE yahoo site and through google docs: here and here). They are 100% compatible with each other, and both are based on the SotC rules but with a few changes and several major modifications, including rules for non-human races, weapons and armor affecting damage, and most importantly, a full magic system. Cubicle 7 liked what they saw, so they hired me to help write the Legends of Anglerre magic system and races, in large part adapting the rules in SoS&S. They ended up changing what I had written somewhat for the final draft, but you can still see the seed of where they came from fairly clearly.”
  • Wheel of Fate – This is a Fate-inspired homebrew mash-up from Rob Donoghue (at least as I see it — he may correct me) that I believe can be found in the files area of the FateRPG Yahoo Group.
  • Death of the Vele – Bill Burdick’s hack on the Fate engine. Whether his work has rendered a Fate variant or a Fate-like game is an exercise left to the reader!

  65 Responses to “Fate and Its Branches”

  1. Free Fate – This is the version I’ve been using. It sort of combines Spirit of the Century and Starblazer Adventures, and then really condenses it. Currently, it stands at about 45 pages but it’s quite complete. It’s written by R. Grant Erswell.

  2. @Mike — Link?

  3. Yes! Linkage would be good! Oh yes, it’s free, too! (hence the name)

  4. Added to the post.

  5. In my Fate box, I also have Wheel of Fate. Is that a Fate Inspired game?

    Then the other thing I have is this.
    I think it’s the shortest Fate I’ve ever seen, though I haven’t done a side-by-side with The Core.

  6. Mike, you linked Free FATE 0.2, but I got the 0.3 version from the same site.
    0.3 features “Several clarifications and restructuring changes. Addition of What is a Good Aspect?, Sample Minions & Sample Companions sections.”

  7. FATE 2.0.
    In your opinion is it a separate branch or just a defunct version of the Core? I know for my GTC project I used 2.0 then when 3.0 came out I personally felt I was not able to capture the spirit of the setting with 3.0 even though I could in 2.0. My point really being that that 3.0 IS an improvement but different mechanics lend themselves to different implimentations and therefore 2.0 might be a different branch.
    (p.s. GTC= Gulliver’s Trading Company)

  8. Just so you know a version 0.3 of Free FATE has been around for some time now. It is now 48 pages and it is available here:

    Changes included in this version are:
    Several clarifications and restructuring changes.
    Addition of ‘What is a Good Aspect?’, ‘Sample Minions’ & ‘Sample Companions’ sections.

  9. Well, there is my own Spirits of Steam and Sorcery and Spirits of Chrome and Cyberspace, both of which are free online (at the FATE yahoo site and here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/10q326kcfWxSA7ZDQUk4MW5dyhHz6mBt10LMnvPmhYoQ/edit?hl=en , https://docs.google.com/document/d/1wJhb1O8tMxejtPjaW43O4SphGZlZJqAI7lc5le3JHRE/edit?hl=en ) They are 100% compatible with each other, and both are based on the SotC rules but with a few changes and several major modifications, including rules for non-human races, weapons and armor affecting damage, and most importantly, a full magic system. Cubicle 7 liked what they saw, so they hired me to help write the Legends of Anglerre magic system and races, in large part adapting the rules in SoS&S. They ended up changing what I had written somewhat for the final draft, but you can still see the seed of where they came from fairly clearly.

  10. for what it’s worth, i believe a newer version of free fate is available here .

    (hopefully, i got the html correct. it’s really just Mike’s link with “v0.3” in place of “v0.2” in the document name.)

  11. […] Fate and Its Branches Pages: Aktuelles, AllgemeinFATE, wikipedia ← Aspekte aufmotzen Comments are closed. […]

  12. Actually, I believe there’s a version 0.3 of Free Fate on the FATE Yahoo Groups… I’m not sure if the file is hosted elsewhere…

  13. I’ve been following FATE since the first free offering of the system that made dramatic, narrative aspects more important than Strength and Intelligence scores. I own Spirit of the Century, Starblazers Adventures, Dreseden Files RPG, and Strands of FATE, while my best friend has gifted me with Diaspora. I’m pleased with the evolution of FATE, and look forward to 3.0.

    Parenthetically I will add that I much prefer the approach used for magic in the DFRPG over what I have seen in some of the other offerings that have been made.

  14. Fred, where do you think Wheel of Fate fits into this schemata? Core?

  15. Thanks for all of the Free Fate corrections, folks. They all piled up because I didn’t get a chance to approve the comments until just now. Lots of eagle eyes out there. 🙂

    I’ll be making a series of individual reply comments as I work through things, but I figured I’d treat with the Free Fate corrections in bulk, first!

  16. @Ezra and @Paul – Wheel of Fate always struck me as Rob’s homebrew mash-up of Fate and some other stuff he had floating around in his head, kind of its own beastie. It feels a little bit like a Fate-inspired thing, and a little bit like its own thing. I’ll give it a nod in the main post edits.

    @Tom, good stuff, thanks for sharing that. I’ll write that into the post as “Tom’s Spirits”. 🙂

    @Ezra, thanks for hunting down that Fate Basics link. I haven’t done a side by side comparison either.

    @Catodon, Fate 2.0 (still downloadable on this site) is presently a dead branch, for me. We’ve largely left it behind. That said, I do think there’s some stuff we’d love to “port forward” into the core, there.

  17. Does Leverage count as (Cortex-Plus) Fate-Inspired?

  18. @Greg, sure, conversationally, but in the sense of “a game that people frequently cite as Fate, but which is not”, no. 🙂

  19. Would Chronica Feudalis count as “FATE inspired”? It uses Aspects a cites FATE in it’s OGL legal.

  20. I think of Death of the Vele as a FATE variant and it’s FATE-inspired at the very least:


    Here’s a description:

    Death of the Vele takes place after a single night when the scheming Scrow empire destroyed the gentle Vele, global masters of knowledge and machines. It’s a collaborative game that comes from FATE, Blood Red Sands, and Lady Blackbird, but it does not use Fudge. Fate points function like in FATE but compels generate experience, rather than fate points and you can buy off aspects, like in Lady Blackbird; “refreshment scenes” provide fate point refresh, also like in LB. Each player plays a PC as well as a group of story characters or components and they trade off narrating during play. Players win and lose dice during actions, which they can burn for power, use for healing or repair, or use to create new characters or traits.

  21. I’ve been pondering a 2nd edition of Awesome Adventures, which somehow strips the core of FATE even further down to its essential bits.

  22. @Buzz, oh man, it sure would. Thanks for reminding me of that.

  23. I have a few FATE variants floating around the Web (notably fantasy, wuxia, and 17th-century swashbuckling), but I’m not sure I’d point to any of them and say “This is a full and complete FATE game!” They each have their own mechanical differences to tweak them for their genre, but they also tend to rely on SotC to fill in their gaps.

    However, the FATE edition of The Kerberos Club, coming out later this year, will definitely be a standalone FATE book, and distinct in a few ways from other FATE games on the market.

  24. I’m still reading through it but Budge uses Fate’s Aspects, so I’m guessing it’s at least Fate inspired?

    (I may have posted this before, but I’m not sure it got through)

  25. There is also Fate of the Galaxy. follow one of the two links in the first post of [Star Wars Fate] The Fate of the Galaxy – RPGnet Forums

  26. Nanopunk?

  27. I’m the Michael (aka Mouse, TheMouse) that wrote Tri-Fold. I just completely a slightly expanded version of the rules today. They come in a whopping 4 pages (plus 1 for the OGL). It shares a lot of text with Tri-Fold, but it’s got Stunts, rules for mass combat, mooks, Gadgets, plus a bunch of options. It can can be found here:


    I’ve titled it Compact Fate.

    I just put it up today, and sometimes Google Docs is a little wonky the first day a file is there.

  28. Fred,

    So, I have played some fate, and sold a fair number of your books to folks I have evangelized FATE too (esp. DFRPG). Also it’s 8:30, I’ve been working for 14.5 hours and well, I have a question. If I had more energy I might could find, but it has eluded me so far on your site.

    So when is your FATE Core (insert appro. title) hitting the stands? Got a month/quarter/year in mind? Not trying to nag, just feeling a bit lost (and tired).


  29. Wayne, the answer is as it always has been: it’ll be finished when it’s done. No date.

  30. I’m found another Fate game: “Limitless Horizons”. http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product_info.php?products_id=61469

  31. 6: I have Limitless Horizons, and I love it, but it’s not really a FATE build as much as a FATE supplement. It requires an existing FATE game to use (in particular, it was meant to be used with Spirit of the Century).

  32. Until a few weeks ago I had never heard of FATE. A Google search found this page, which led me to Free FATE, and inspired me to buy SOTC, Strands of FATE and Diaspora.

    The only reason I didn’t buy Dresden Files because I don’t know the universe. So I bought the first Dresden novel instead.

    Incidentally if you ever want to really confuse yourself, buy three variants of a game and read them all at the same time works a treat.

    The upside of this process is seeing how flexible the system can be, and still be recognisably “FATE”.

  33. @ Brian:
    Glutton fer punishment, ain’t ya?
    Take my word for it, buy DF_RPG as well. IMHO it’s got the best magic system I’ve seen.
    And I’ve seen quite a few. I’m 53 and have been gaming since I was 16.
    Besides, on cannot have too many RPG’s . . .
    So many games, so little time.
    (and yes, I’m in therapy . . .)

    apologies for hi-jacking the thread.

  34. […] they are outside the scope of this article. You can find a link to Free FATE and read more about FATE and branches at the FATE […]

  35. Hi

    Very good post, I am a good silent fan of the FATE approach in the tabletop RPG world out there.

    I was just wondering, I am interested into buying the mentionned rpg: Awesome Adventures, but the http://www.lulu.com site is down.

    Where can I buy the pdf of this rpg? It is not on drivethrue or rpgnow. Is it still possible to buy it at all?

    Many thanks


  36. Hugues, the Lulu link is working great for me right now. Try again?

  37. mmm fred? Hi!

    just tried again with Firefox, and then with IE. Firefox opens a blank page, IE wont open it at all, stating that the page cannot be openend.

    So, I just dunno 🙂

  38. Are you in the USA? If not, this might be a regional thing (w/ Lulu not displaying to regions they don’t ship/sell to). But I’m loading up http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/awesome-adventures/14682569 just fine.

  39. ahh, that might explain it. I live outside the USA. Ah well.

    Thanks for the cue!

  40. Thanks for mentioning Awesome Adventures, I really like this.

  41. How does something like Malmsturm fit in?

  42. That’s a fine question … but I don’t read German, so I’m not equipped to answer it. 🙂

  43. Fred,
    while I can read German perfectly fine, I just haven’t had the time to fully read the Malmsturm PDF yet, but here’s how I understand it:

    Malmsturm is a Fate implementation geared towards generic Fantasy. The first book (out right now) is just the rules. The second book will contain a Sword and Sorcery setting for use with the system.

    System-wise it’s rather close to Core Fate. (People are planning to use parts of the Malmsturm text as a basis for a German translation of the Fate 3 SRD).
    And, because it’s Fantasy, you could also say it’s the German LoA. This is of course wildly inappropriate, as Malmsturm uses generic stunts and is overall a much slimmer book than LoA – in that respects, it reminds me more of VSCA Fate.

    So, in a nutshell:
    – it’s German
    – it’s generic Fantasy
    – it’s pretty close to Core Fate
    – but it has generic stunts
    – there will be a Sword And Sorcery-setting, so some details and subsystems (like the magic system) may already be geared towards that specific subgenre.

    Oh well, I’d say Malmsturm is its own branch next to VSCA Fate and Cubicle 7 Fate.

  44. […] World of Darkness in the 1990s, so today some gamers are moving to lighter systems such as FATE rather than play […]

  45. Is it time to add Agents of S.W.I.N.G. to the list?

  46. I’ve seen that it’s out there, but have had no time to grab myself a copy yet. Bigger fish, etc. 🙂

  47. […] after coming to a consensus for FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures, I've incorporated other FATE sourcebooks, including Mindjammer for psionics, Diaspora for some skills, Limitless Horizons for occupations, […]

  48. I’d like to officially submit Strange FATE, the version of FATE used in The Kerberos Club: FATE Edition, as another branch of the FATE tree. As branches go, it cleaves really closely to “mainstream” FATE 3.0 stuff like SotC and DFRPG.

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