Thursday, September 26, 2013

Playing with Fate

Found some more notes and sample character write-ups for my dieselpunk/pulp adventure campaign world. Still waffling on what system I want to use, but in the meantime, I decided to try adapting an old character to the Fate system to see how it would work.

So here is Dougal Smeaton, my ex-military engineer from our Atlantean campaign. I followed the basic model from Fate Core, and not the model from Spirit of the Century (the pulp adventure game that first got me thinking about Fate) which loads up a lot more aspects and skills.

Dougal Smeaton


A hell of an engineer:
  • Benefits: Knows how to design, build and repair machinery
  • Hindrances: Thinks of things mechanically, has trouble believing in it if he can't understand how it works

Truth in the bottom of a glass
  • Benefits: High tolerance for alcohol, knows a lot about whiskey and brewing, has unique insights
  • Hindrances: Often drunk, bad reputation

  • Benefits: knowledge of military customs and skills, experienced campaigner, military contacts
  • Hindrances: bad memories of the war, sense of duty may lead him to put himself in danger

Secret Romantic
  • Benefits: knowledge of poetry, loyalty, passion
  • Hindrances: may do foolish or dangerous things for the woman he loves, trouble when secrets come to light

  • Benefits: Strong, courageous, loves to fight
  • Hindrances: may resort to violence when other approaches might be smarter


Physique (Great +4)
Fight, Crafts (Good +3)
Shoot, Athletics, Contacts (Fair +2)
Notice, Provoke, Rapport, Language: Atlantean (Average +1)


Grappler: +2 on Physique rolls when grappling
Better Than New: when succeed with style on repair, add a free situation aspect

Physical Stress: _ _ _ _
Mental Stress: _ _

This would be the sheet for Dougal as he was starting out. It carries all the bullet points of his personality in the aspects (the "Secret Romantic" aspect was one that didn't really exist when I first made up the character--it developed during play--but there is a mechanism in the rules to allow aspects to evolve to reflect the character as he develops). The high Physique skill reflects his large size and strength, and gives him extra physical stress boxes. "Crafts" would be the equivalent skill to "Engineering." In our game, Engineering might actually have been split out into a separate skill. If there were a lot of differentiation of skills, however (say, Fight being split into Boxing, Grappling, Sword, Knife, Spear, etc), then there might need to be a bigger skill pyramid to start, with 15 skills instead of 10.

By the end of the campaign, Dougal would have increased several skills, plus added a few. He would also have several Extras to represent things like his flaming sword Angfar and his companion, the beautiful Princess Leda.

On a normal character sheet, you wouldn't list out benefits and hindrances for aspects the way I did above, but I think it's helpful in this context to show some of the ways they could be interpreted during the game. Aspects not only reflect personality, but are also ways to give the character advantages or disadvantages throughout the game. One interesting mechanic is that you can use aspects to give you bonuses to rolls, after you've made the roll.

So, for instance, when Smeaton learned of Leda's vision that he would die protecting her from a demon, he still foolishly went up against it solo (compelling his Secret Romantic aspect and gaining a Fate point). But during the fight itself, he could have invoked both his Two-Fisted (loves to fight) and Secret Romantic (protecting the woman he loves) aspects to give him bonuses to his Fight rolls. He could have invoked those aspects to mitigate the effects of bad rolls or to reroll completely. On the other hand, because the opponent was so superior, he could have chosen to invoke those aspects only after really good rolls, enabling him to stack a lot of damage at once and defeat a superior opponent. It would be a gamble, but then, the whole fight was.

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