Our recent forays into the Fate gaming system have been an overwhelmingly popular departure for our group from the age-old standbys of D20 rolls and fantasy adventures. The fact that we’ve been able to pretty successfully ‘hack’ the system to adapt it to a number of periods & genres- superheroes, World War II, Gothic horror in Victorian London- translates into a nearly endless pool of possibilities for campaigns.
For a group that tends to get distracted easily by new stories, characters, and systems, this is a decidedly good thing. Hacking Fate to fit our current mood allows us to use the same books and well-known mechanics over and over. The experience can be reborn nearly every time, however, as we ‘skin’ those books and mechanics with new worlds to fit the story we want to tell.
It was bound to happen, then, that someone would pipe up one day with a question like “Wouldn’t it be cool to use the Fate rules, but in our normal fantasy setting?”. (Full disclosure here: that someone was me.) Luckily, Chase happened to agree, and we went about discussing how we would translate the system we liked so well into a playable version set in the world of swords & sorcery. Today’s post is the first in a series that will explain exactly how we’re making that happen!
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Fantasy Fate is played using the rules for Fate 3.0, which is available to all under the Open Gaming License. There is currently no published source document for Fate 3.0, but both Spirit of the Century and Dresden Files RPG systems (both published by Evil Hat Productions) are based on the system. As such, Fantasy Fate is based on the rules set outlined in the ‘Your Story’ book for the Dresden Files Role-Playing Game. Page numbers indicated for Fantasy Fate are written as “YSXX,” where “YS” stands for ‘Your Story’ and “XX” indicates the specific page. In other words, you’re going to need it to play Fantasy Fate!
Fantasy FATE Character Creation
Our heroes in Fantasy Fate are ordinary individuals gifted with extraordinary skills and powers. In that way, they fit a bit more comfortably into Tolkien’s fantasy settings than, say, 2nd Edition D&D. If you’ve read this blog at all in the past, you know that our group always favors a low magic fantasy setting, one that is gritty and dangerous and colored heavily by real history. It should come as no surprise, then, that our Fantasy Fate system follows the same formula.
There are no character classes in Fantasy Fate. While a hero’s specific role or position in their town, guild, or party may be reflected by their High Concept, and therefore invoked to gain some in-game benefit, there are no restrictions as to who may use enchanted items, arcane abilities, or divine powers. Instead, all heroes have access to the following powers (as per ‘Your Story’): Mortal Stunts (YS146), Items of Power (YS167), Minor Abilities (YS169), Spellcraft (YS179), and True Faith (YS187).
Please note that while human characters may select any powers they choose, taking any ability other than Mortal Stunts will disqualify the character from the default ‘Pure Mortal’ template (see below), and therefore remove the additional Refresh bonus. Likewise, it will force them into the realm of ‘supernatural’ humans, no matter the source of those powers.
Every hero in Fantasy Fate starts off as a Pure Mortal Human, using the template provided below. (These Pure Mortals are frequently referred to as ‘vanilla’ mortals around the table.) They have exceptional skills, training, and abilities, and are marked by tremendous courage and drive. However, they have come by all of these gifts naturally; that is, they have no magical aptitude, no divine endowments, and no superpowers. They are, as the name implies, simply human- albeit the finest specimens their race has to offer.
Pure Mortal Human
Pure mortals are ordinary humans who have no connection to the supernatural, save perhaps for the company they keep or the things they’ve seen. Pure mortals can come from all walks of life: city guards, apothecaries, cutpurses, performers, apprentices, tradesmen, merchants, and more.
Pure mortals need a reason to be involved in supernatural events despite their lack of supernatural gifts. This reason can be determined in advance, or it can be supplied quickly during play by dropping the character into the middle of some catastrophic event. While they don’t bring any supernatural power to the adventure, pure mortals can still turn the tide in terms of their mundane abilities and considerable influence, connections, and resources. An officer in the royal army may have the resources of the Crown’s military might behind them. An especially shrewd merchant may invest his gold in expanding his power base, both in mortal and supernatural affairs.
Musts: Pure mortals may not take any supernatural powers. In exchange for this restriction, pure mortal characters get a +2 bonus to their starting refresh. If this character ever takes a supernatural power (anything other than those abilities found in Mortal Stunts (YS146)), this refresh bonus goes away immediately. This loss may be mitigated by dropping one or two mortal stunts.
Options: Pure mortals may take as many mortal stunts as they can afford without putting themselves at or over the zero refresh limit.
Important Skills: There is no single skill on which a pure mortal must focus. As they have no special powers that depend on one area of expertise, any and all available skills may profit them.
Minimum Refresh Cost: –0. Instead, increase your starting refresh by 2 before taking any mortal stunts.
There are other races that exist in Fantasy Fate, and they feature racial bonuses and powers unique only to their kind. In the next installment introducing our Fantasy Fate setting, we’ll reveal how players can make characters from other fantasy races as well: Dwarf, Goblin, Half-orc, Half-elf, and Elf. Stay tuned!