I am a huge fan of the Fate Core roleplaying system. I came at the game from a theoretical perspective; I was looking for a game that fit a list of criteria for what I liked in a role-playing game, and it seemed to fit. Now, the group I play with is just wrapping up a year-long campaign (with myself as the gamemaster) base on Ed Turner’s ‘Aether Sea’ setting, and I found that the system really does deliver on its promise. The mechanics are light enough that you can play a whole session without opening a book, but substantial enough to put meat on the bones of the game world. There is also a ton of content developed for the system: worlds, extras, and characters, much of it free for the taking.
In this article, I want to share and review a few of the tools that I found useful when playing Fate. I take no credit for the things I didn’t make - just linking to information that I found already available on the interwebs. I hope you enjoy!
1) Fate SRD
The System Reference Document of any role-playing game system is a must-have for gamemasters. For the uninitiated, it is usually the text of the core rulebook uploaded to the internet in a searchable, hyperlinked form. Super useful. Amazing Rando Design has done this for the Fate Core and Fate Accelerated Edition rulebooks, as well as some additional material.
2) Fantasy Creatures Site
Inkwell Ideas, Inc. has developed a website resource for the Fate Core system. It features a long list of fantasy creatures, many of which will seem familiar to long-time role-players: roper, kobold, tarrasque, etc. (it’s missing the Beholder, though. I was disappointed! Trademark issue, maybe?). The list has everything you could want in order to play a Dungeons and Dragons or Pathfinder-style campaign. One weakness: the creatures are all designed to be Main NPCs or powerful supporting NPCs, so don’t set your group up against a full raiding party of orcs from this list. That being said, it’s quite a simple matter to have one to four big baddies surrounded by a horde of nameless NPCs. Fantastic (+6) resource!
3) Character Generator
Reddit is a vast, desolate landscape you shouldn’t even try to enter without a cleric who can prepare ‘Create Water’ daily; but out there you will often find gems. On a FATErpg forum, green_circles randomly (and quite generously) uploaded a spreadsheet random character generator, for which I am eternally grateful. Enter something in an empty cell on the sheet and press enter, and the sheet randomly generates all the aspects and skills for a random main or supporting NPC, as well as a list of situation aspects for everything from guards to terrain, and physical, mental, and social advantages. I never used the characters as they were randomly generated, but it was a great brainstorming tool, and all of my important NPCs had at least a couple of aspects generated by this spreadsheet.
4) Opposition Sheet
This one is a Landru original. One thing I had trouble with as a gamemaster is the amount of player agency that Fate offers. Not only can players go a completely different way than you expected, (every gamemaster’s plans work until the players show up) players also have the agency to solve problems in multiple different ways, using a variety of skill in non-linear ways to create advantages and circumvent created encounters. Eventually, I more or less gave up planning. I created a ‘difficulty level’ spreadsheet to help me to improvise. This meant that no matter what direction the players took the narrative, I knew more or less the difficulty I should pit them against to create the appropriate dramatic tension. I incorporated the core rulebook’s guidelines for passive and active opposition; the scale on the right hand side corresponds to the scale used on the Fantasy Creatures site; and on the left I included some situations where each level would be appropriate. The file is uploaded below. You’re welcome!
5) Snarf World
This is the bonus track for people who have kept reading up to this point. One of the wonderful and hilarious accidental products of our game was the creation of snarfs. Snarfs are an alien species of indeterminate anatomy that the sentient races have begun to use for entertainment. They are raced against each other, with bets being placed on who will win, who will lose, who will place, who will eat their jockey, and whether or not the race will even finish. It is a fun side-quest that can turn into the entire focus of a game if you let it. At the bottom of this article, I have included a text file of the rules for running your very own snarf race. The point of this is to create an absurd fictional narrative in the style of a race sportscast. Have fun!
There were several other resources that I created and/or modified for use in the Aether Sea setting (now also linked so you can grab a copy from DriveThru RPG), and I plan to share those in an upcoming article. I hope these resources help you to take your game to the next level!
Landrew is a full-time educator, part-time art enthusiast. He applies his background in literature and fine arts to his favourite hobby (role-playing games) because the market for a background in the Fine Arts is very limited. He writes this blog on company time under a pseudonym. Long live the Corporation!
I am become death, destroyer of worlds.