Licensing Fate (CC-BY)


byThe Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY) is one of the licensing options available for Fate. These are the System Reference Documents (SRDs) available under this licensing scheme.

System Reference Documents (SRDs)

A Guide To Using the Fate SRDs with Creative Commons

This is aimed at designers, writers, and publishers who’d like to build on the Creative Commons release of the Fate Core System and Fate Accelerated Edition System Reference Documents. From here on in, we’ll just call them “the SRDs”.

The most important thing to understand if you’re new to Creative Commons licenses is that we’ve chosen the most liberal one possible. In particular, the license we chose isn’t viral, which means you don’t have to license those works under a Creative Commons license if you don’t want to! We think this is important because there are good reasons not to use an open license; our experience working with the Dresden Files and other licensed properties tells us that.


The first right you have under the Creative Commons Attribution license is a straight-up copy of the SRDs. If you do this, just remember to include the original copyright notice found in those documents, and don’t add any kind of copy protection.

Translations and Non-US Works

A translation counts as a new work, so the next section will tell you everything you need to know about that. It might be useful for you to know that the Creative Commons Attribution Unported license was written using the terminology of the Berne Convention and various WIPO Copyright treaties, so you shouldn’t run into any problems if you’re publishing in a jurisdiction other than the United States.

Creating New Works

You have the right to create new works of any kind derived from the SRDs.

What License Should I Use?

We hope you use a Creative Commons license where it makes sense, because we think that will benefit the Fate community, but it’s completely up to you.

If you do decide to use a Creative Commons license, you can use any of them. If you want to use a viral Creative Commons license, so that people who build on your work must also release their work under the same license, you can do that. (That’s not our preference nor our recommendation, but it’s up to you.)

On the other hand, if you’re working with someone else’s intellectual property and they’re not comfortable about releasing it under any sort of open license, that’s cool too.


The biggest requirement for anything you do based on our work is attribution; you must give us credit for our work. The next section goes into detail on how you should do that.

Second, you can’t imply or state that Evil Hat is endorsing or sponsoring you unless we’ve made a special arrangement with you. Don’t use our logo or the Fate logo without talking to us first. There is a Powered by Fate logo you can use very easily, though; see our main licensing page.

Finally, you can’t use the SRDs to make something which would be prejudicial to Evil Hat’s honor or reputation. (That’s exactly how the legal license puts it!) We’re not sure how you’d do that, but don’t.

That’s all the legal stuff. As always, if you’re unsure about exactly what to do or if you’re investing a lot of money in publishing something based on our work, think about talking to a lawyer.

This isn’t a legal requirement, but we’d love it if you let us know what you were doing with Fate and maybe passed along a few copies — digital ones would be fine. Drop us an email!


So, how do you give us credit for our work?

This is really simple. Wherever you put your own copyright, add the following text:

This work is based on Fate Core System and Fate Accelerated Edition (found at, products of Evil Hat Productions, LLC, developed, authored, and edited by Leonard Balsera, Brian Engard, Jeremy Keller, Ryan Macklin, Mike Olson, Clark Valentine, Amanda Valentine, Fred Hicks, and Rob Donoghue, and licensed for our use under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license (

All the text has to be the same size as the rest of your copyright section — that’s one of the license requirements. (This text is different if you’re also using the Fate System Toolkit material — you’ll find the text you need to include for that in its system reference document, above.)

If you’re publishing electronically, you can make “Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license” a link to and “Fate Core System” a link to, instead of printing the URLs separately.

Using the CC-Licensed Fate Core SRD with the OGL

The first thing to remember here is that you don’t need to do it. We released the Fate Core SRD under both licenses, so if you want to release your work under the OGL, you can derive it from the OGL version. The two versions are identical except for the license.

But if you wanted to do it, you could. For the purposes of creating a work that is licensed under the Open Game License and which derives from the Creative Commons Fate SRD, we grant permission to attribute our work by adding the following text to Section 15 of your work’s copy of the Open Game License:

Fate Core System and Fate Accelerated Edition © 2013 by Evil Hat Productions LLC. Developed, authored, and edited by Leonard Balsera, Brian Engard, Jeremy Keller, Ryan Macklin, Mike Olson, Clark Valentine, Amanda Valentine, Fred Hicks, and Rob Donoghue.

This works for us because we’re giving you explicit permission to handle attribution that way. Don’t assume that any other Creative Commons material can be used the same way.

 Posted by at 11:27 am

  47 Responses to “Licensing Fate (CC-BY)”

  1. Hi. I’m using bits from Core, FAE and the Toolkit. Do I need to include both pieces of Attribution text? Or can I blend them by combining the named people?

  2. Both pieces need to be attributed as given or it’s not considered proper credit, I believe. We’re not likely to police you over combining it, but I think that that’s technically non-kosher.

  3. I had made up my mind to ask about licensing to use FAE in this game idea I have been kicking around for a few years (sad I know, just got introduced to FAE two months ago). I want to thank you for doing this and if I have any questions I will send them your way. I plan to go this route with cc-by and ‘Powered by Fate’ when I get to that point, Thank you again.

  4. Questions about Fate cards and dice for licensed games. I like using to make games and game components. After running some great Fate Games, I want to make my own Fate dice using TheGameCrafter’s custom dice features and maybe a Fate Deck and Fate Tokens.

    1. Can we use POD services to make Fate components under the license as stand alone products to offer the masses?

    2. Can we make such items as part of a tweaked Fate game that we made; like as a boxed set of a game including all the things you need to play?

    3. How bad would you cringe at a GM’s screen that would serve not to hide info, but to give a sturdy Rules-at-a-Glance look at the game rules?

    Looking forward to stopping by the Gen Con booth and thanking you all in person for making such a great game. Thanks (in advance) for answering the questions.

  5. You can’t brand them with the Fate logo as that’s Evil Hat’s intellectual property, but folks are always free to make components for games that don’t violate IP. If you have any doubts they’re best resolved by a conversation with an attorney who “speaks the language”. 🙂

    EHP won’t have its own GenCon booth — we’re represented by Indie Press Revolution at the show — but we’ll be at the show. Drop by to get a handle on our schedule.

  6. I’m in the process of building a superhero MU* using FATE Core and the Venture City system (doubtless with some tweaks, of course). It would be convenient to provide some of the material directly on the MU*, most especially the power-building system (both for reference and to be able to pick powers “off the rack” if people want to build a character quickly).

    This sound kosher under so liberal a licence, but I thought I’d check, particularly with regard to two points:

    1) Where might it be reasonable to put the attribution? By nature of MU*s the text will have to be split up among many “help” pages. I’m not sure where the best compromise lies between making sure people can find it and not making it too intrusive.

    2) The text is likely to end up quite intermixed with additions as well as having a few alterations. Is there any need to distinguish what parts are original, or is the simple statement that there are changes sufficient (which is my impression)?

    Many thanks!

  7. In reverse order, no, there’s no need to flag that which is original material when you’re creating a derivative work. Derive away!

    And, I’d probably suggest you put the CC-BY attribution on the login page to the MU*. That way it’s got prominent visibility and you don’t have to thread it through your help documentation.

  8. Ok, that’s what I was thinking – thanks!

  9. Hi Fred,
    I will like to make something for Dresden files RPG, a fast adventure, and make some money with a Patreon.
    But after a look I not sure that I can do that. I find out that I can make a new rpg or world but no info about that. Maybe I have to look in the Evil Hat web, but I didnt find nothing.
    Any advice?

    Thank for your response!!!

  10. Explicitly something you can’t do. The Dresden Files IP is not open.

  11. Hey, Hatters, a licensing question over here!

    I love a lot about your system, Fate Accelerated in particular, but I can’t grok and use the product as it is, as I simply cannot come to terms with its biggest mechanical aspect (ohoho!) – aspects.

    In essence, I have a semi-cooked plan for a game that might resemble Fate Accel but there are no named and codified actions and outcomes, approaches are not approaches and are ability nouns, not adverbs, aspects don’t exist at all and the equivalent of stunts are not made on the fly but exist in class packages offered for three assumed broad genres (you’ve probably guessed what the largest strain of my RPG DNA is by now).

    The chief element I want to preserve is the use of the Fate / Fudge dice and the degrees of success / ladder. At this point I have no idea what I do with this, as it’s very obviously heavily inspired by Fate Accelerated and uses a few of its design pillars, but they are altered to the point where I cannot reference almost anything in the SRD.

    Any advice on how to proceed with this, if I ever find the time to sit down and assemble a presentable PDF of it?

    Thanks in advance!

  12. If you’re not duplicating any of our text there’s no legal requirement to use a license.

    If you are, you should at least consider using the CC-BY variant, its requirement in terms of what you need to add to your game’s copyright page is a fairly compact footprint and it doesn’t require you to open up any part of your derivative (however far-flung) work.

  13. Thank you for the prompt reply!

    I doubt that I will be duplicating text as it is, as it will quite likely need to be a rewrite with different names and often different mechanics, but I have no issue with dropping the CC-BY content on the page! Will note this for future reference!
    Thanks once again!

  14. I have a game world I want to make for Fate Core. Should I use a CC by and include the rules or can I just have the rules that are different and ask the players to have the existing rule books for the rest of the rules. It is going to be pdf/POD game sold through rpgnow or a similar site so I just wanted to clarify with you what is the best way to do that? I have a number worlds and ideas I would love to bring over to this system. Also once we produce a pdf/sample do we send you a copy to approve the license or how does that work?

    Thank you for making such an awesome system. I

  15. You can derive content from the CC-BY SRD without having to include all of it, so either of the options you lay out are valid.

    Due to the nature of open licensing, no approval is required, otherwise it wouldn’t really be “open”. You can just do it… this is all self-serve. 🙂

  16. Fiction writing is difficult for me and I have used Fate and FA to “nail down” some character and setting details. Would adding the licencing info and /or “powered by Fate logo be appropriate, applicable, and/or sufficient? What you’re doing is wonderful. Thanks!

  17. If you’ve written fiction based on gameplay, that gameplay has no claim of copyright to what you’ve written. It’s only if you’ve incorporated some portion of the system reference text that you’d need to apply a license at all.

  18. Thanks Fred. I haven’t even done game play. I’ve just used the Fate and FA framework to get a handle on relative power levels between characters, and I like using Aspects, skills, approaches, boxes to nail down setting details. If no one minds, I may drop by with updates on the project. Cheers!

  19. when utilizing the creative commons license, do you need to place the legal text of the license in the produce you are creating, like with the OGL license?

  20. Yes. But unlike the OGL, the license text in question is a couple sentences rather than a full page of text.

  21. Hi,

    I have some ideas about a setting I would like to publish on DTRPG. A first professional project to sell.
    I like Fate and want to be sure that I can sell my setting with the “Powered by Fate” logo and the copyright for the attribution.
    Thank you 😉

  22. Description of how to produce a Fate licensed game is on this page that you’re leaving a comment on.

    Powered by Fate logo licensing terms are found at

    That’s it

  23. Hi, are there any licenses for the Fate Core commissions (Very Large Monsters, Humanity and Magic etc)? Are they open at all? Thanks!

  24. Hello

    I am looking to create a FAE setting which in time I would like to publish via DriveThru (first electronically, then by in print if the setting proves popular). However I keep reading the OGL and CC-BY information and my blood starts to run cold at the legal stuff. My biggest fear is what if I do something wrong and then get sued.

    I therefore have a few questions just to clarify my understanding of how OGL and CC-BY work.

    1) If I include the OGL or CC-BY in the book (front or back) I am covered if I reference (not copy) the system used, rules on how to play and how the setting aligns to the FAE (or FATE Core) game?

    2) Can I produce a setting with rules for both FATE Core and FAE (and would I need two separate OGL or CC-BY or would one cover both versions of the system)?

    3) If I make my content available in the OGL and CC-BY this means that other people can copy it and potentially produce their own books (I cannot copy write my work if I am using the FATE system)? I only ask because I have read that you prefer to have content open. I would love to share my work but it would kill me if I created something and then someone took my idea, published their own version of them and took credit for it just because I didn’t get the legal stuff right.

    4) How does one go about getting permission to have the setting ‘A World Adventure for FATE Core’ rather than ‘Powered By FATE’ (if there a process where you can submit a finished non-published produce for consideration)?

    5) What is your view about using a Kickstarter to fund/get the word out about a setting for the game that makes it clear it is Powered by FATE? I ask because I am a big fan of Kickstarter (I’ve contributed to over 80 to date) and I would love to try one for myself. I did contribute to a FATE setting (Secret of Cats) but reviewing that Kickstarter I can’t tell if this was an official setting or not.

    I hope I’m not asking too many (or silly) questions.

    Thanks for your time and also for creating a great system.


  25. 1) Yes. By using the license, you may replicate anywhere from zero to one hundred percent of the text as found in the associated SRD.

    2) You’d need to provide the attribution as indicated necessary by the license on each respective text.

    3) Nope. You are not obligated to make your content open. CC-BY is non-“viral”, and with OGL you just need to explicitly declare which portions of your product are “product identity” and not made open. But, I am not a lawyer, and if you’re that concerned about your ideas being copied (a really low risk in this line of work) you should hire an IP lawyer to review your declarations.

    4) You would have to be the publisher that owns/asserts that trademark (Evil Hat), which you aren’t. So one does not go about that. Powered by Fate is there specifically for third party publishers, which you are.

    5) You didn’t contribute to the Secrets of Cats Kickstarter because there wasn’t one. The author of Secrets of Cats did, however, get permission from Evil Hat to create his own *supplements* for the original published-by-Evil-Hat Secrets of Cats, and ran a Kickstarter to make those possible. That’s how it ended up official. Evil Hat didn’t publish those supplements and had no interest in doing so, and part of the authorship agreement with Richard on the original stipulated that the content he created was co-owned, rather than him giving up his full IP rights to the setting/concept to Evil Hat.

  26. Hi Fred,

    Thank you for your support answering my questions. You have given me a lot to think about.

    I just wanted to clarify two point I made in my original questions as I think I may have been clumsy in my asking.

    3) I’m not so much worried if others use my ideas to create their own wonderful games and extend the proposed universe that I’m planning. The question was more a reflection on the experience of a friend who creates quilling craft items on a craft selling site. One of her designs has proven to be very popular to the point that others are making direct copies of her work (it happens a couple of times a month). As this is design is from her collection of work she sells, she has to challenge to the hosting site and/or the individual who copied the design that they have infringed on her intellectual property. It has been a very soul destroying process for her at times, so my question was more of an open ended “what if”, rather than implying any against the RPG community (who I think are generally quite nice people).

    5) You are absolutely right, it wasn’t The Secret of Cats that was on Kickstarter. It was The Secret of Cats: Feline Magic, a supplement for the original game. I also want to make clear that when I said “contributed”, I mean that I only paid money towards the Kickstarter that Richard was running. I do not mean that I contributed anything to the game itself in a written or artistic sense. I want to make this clear as TSOC: FM was one of the games that made me go “wow, I really wish I could do something like this” (because it’s an RPG about cats and magic).

    Anyway – thanks again for your advice. I feel more committed than ever now to contribute something to this great game.

    Many thanks


  27. 3) That’s why you would declare things like your layout, artwork, graphic design, and potentially portions of your setting as closed content, which would prevent people from (legally) making exact replicas.

  28. I’m building out a game that adapts the High Fantasy Magic system listed in the SRD Odds and Ends section, but I don’t see any licensing information for it, is it included in Fate/FAE license listed above or is there different text that needs to be used with it?

  29. Vince, there’s no “High Fantasy Magic” system listed on this page (which lists Evil Hat originated open content), nor is there one on (which lists downloadables, but that doesn’t mean they’re all open content). I have to conclude you’re talking about a third party site’s content, which I have no say over… ah, yes, you’re talking about the Odds & Ends section on — that is not run by Evil Hat, it’s a third party adaptation of the open content we’ve provided, and it looks like they’ve taken on some open content provided by parties other than Evil Hat. Thusly, I have no idea of the origin of that particular content. You’d need to contact the folks, not me, to find out who to talk to about it.

  30. Oh thanks! Sorry, didn’t realize that!

  31. Vince, Randy says he’s updated that specific page with licensing text:

  32. Hi Fred,

    I have a question about the Creative Commons Attribution License. If i create a system using this
    license, can i rework some of the core mechanics to fit my game and protect the changes i made?


  33. CC-BY lays no claim to the rights of the derivative work. So, anything at all you do when deriving from something based on it, is protected as your IP.

    You can use anywhere from 0% to 100% of the SRD in your derivation, which therefore means you can rework core mechanics.

  34. Question: will the licensing text above be updated to include Condensed along with Core and Accelerated?

  35. There’s licensing text for Condensed in the Condensed SRD that’s already available.

  36. Didn’t see that. Thanks!

  37. In the licensing requirements above, it’s described that I can’t use Fate logo without contacting you first.

    I wrote an One Page Hack of Fate Accelerated that I’d like to call Fate Ultra Accelerated, I’ve already made a second page just for copyright purposes and to include the above attribution but the only thing I need to know is if I can use the Fate logo in the title too, besides the “Powered by Fate” attribution.

    If I need to send it through e-mail before publishing it, which e-mail do I need to send it to?

  38. Usage of the Fate logo outside of Powered By Fate requires a negotiated trademark license with Evil Hat. You can reach them at feedback at evilhat dot com. You may run into difficulty on this one, due to the proximity of your product name to one of theirs.

  39. I noticed under “Copying”…it states: “The first right you have under the Creative Commons Attribution license is a straight-up copy of the SRDs. If you do this, just remember to include the original copyright notice found in those documents, and don’t add any kind of copy protection.”

    what specifically do you mean by “don’t add any kind of copy protection”? Are you referring to the derived work all together, or just making sure that I am not copyrighting the SRD’s?

  40. It means you can’t use copy protection to close off the SRD text you’re borrowing. Your own added IP is your own added IP.

  41. Hello sir, I’m working on Thai translation of FATE Condensed. Would like to publish a PDF on DrivethruRPG but don’t sure about the others attribution apart from mentioned in this site. Is it sufficient to use only a copy of CC and OGL with other credits mentioned in SRD?

    Would it be okay if I used Powered by FATE logo right away with Thai Font as a logo (“FATE Condensed” but in Thai) ? Or using original FATE logo would be more appropriate?

    I have worked on this project alone. So I don’t know which way should I publish this translation, PDF booklet or just a SRD site. So I decided to place a comment here for official suggestions.

  42. Hello sir, I’m working on FATE condensed translation (in Thai). So, I have questions about publishing on DrivethruRPG

    1. Can I named that translation as FATE Condensed ? with proper attribution as mentioned in CC and OGL pages.
    2. If I can use the name FATE Condensed in the translated version. Can I use “Powered by FATE” logo with my own “FATE Condensed” Logo design (in Thai)?

  43. The only thing the CC-BY license allows is reuse of the text found in the SRD.

    1. Technically you can, but if someone arranges with Evil Hat for a Thai language commercial license of Fate inclusive of layout, logo, and art assets, they might have a basis in asking you to rename or take down your work, so you may want to contextualize yours as a Fate Condensed “Fan Translation” or similar.

    2. The separate Powered By Fate logo license does not permit alterations of the logo.

  44. Hello,

    I realize this question may have been answered already here but I am having a hard time processing everything right now, so apologies in advance (if needed). That said, the question:

    If I am writing a game using FAE, and I include a chapter that summarizes the basic FAE rules but uses my own text rather than copying from the SRD, should I still be putting in your CC-BY and copyright notice? I feel like it’s *probably* a yes, but then I also see comments here about CC-BY only referring to the SRD text so I’m not sure. I would of course include an attribution statement regardless, I just want to be clear about how closely I need to stick to your text.


  45. I am not a lawyer, but I believe it’s safest to put the CC-BY attribution unless you’re 100% certain you haven’t replicated any expression of the source IP. CC-BY inflicts no real burden on your derivative (aside from the required note on the copyright page), as it doesn’t force you to open your stuff as well (it’s not a sharealike variant).

    Even if you’re using the CC-BY license, you’re under no obligation to stick closely to the text at all.

  46. Hi. I’m developing a game with lots of aerial combat and I would like to use the system presented in Tachyon Squadron as a starting point. I notice Tachyon Squadron in not in the SRDs above. Are there any plans to add any part of its system? Or is there another way I can develop the general approach in TS without infringing your IP?

  47. There aren’t currently plans for that. That said, mechanics cannot be copyrighted, just the textual expression of those mechanics. If you did something similar but didn’t copy our text for it, you’d be in the clear.

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