Fate Basics

Fate is really easy, but it different from other game systems we have used in the past on several fronts.

Rolling Dice

First of these is the dice, it only uses d3’s and you only ever roll 4 at a time. A roll of a 1 is equal to a “-” or -1, a roll of a 2 is equal to a 0, and a roll of a 3 is equal to “+” or +1. Pretty simple. The total of your roll plus you skill modifier gives you your total. Lets say Henrietta Williams is trying to use a rifle to shoot cans from 50 feet (a Fair difficulty). She rolls and gets 1, 2, 3, 3, which is a total of +1. She adds her Rifle skill at rank 1 (Average) of +1 to her roll and ends up with a +2 for her result, which is enough to successfully hit the cans.

The Adjectives Ladder

Everything in Fate is broken down into its position on the adjective ladder. The ladder ranges from Terrible to Legendary like so:

+8 Legendary
+7 Epic
+6 Fantastic
+5 Superb
+4 Great
+3 Good
+2 Fair
+1 Average
0 Mediocre
-1 Poor
-2 Terrible

All skills start at Mediocre (0) and advance based on the number of skill ranks in them.


Here is where skills get used the most. There are two types of tests you’ll face in Fate, static tests and dynamic tests..

Static Tests

Static tests are tests that involve rolling against a set test level, like shooting a can from 50 feet for instance. The test level is set (Fair for a rifle, Good for a handgun) and the dice are rolled. The difficulties are “meet to beat,” so you only have to equal the modifier to be successful in a static test. There is a benefit to doing much better or much worse than the set difficulty determined by something called the Margin of Success Ladder for Static Tests. It looks a little something like this:


The basic idea is, the more you bet the test level by, the more impactful the success is. Your success will fall into one of the three columns typically, not all three at once. So a Superb on a jump with a test set of Good would result in a MoS of 2, and therefore the success would be moderately more successful than normal resulting in a longer jump or sticking the landing instead of having a jump that lasts the whole scene. On the other hand, failing larger amounts also results in increasing levels of failure. The failures follow the same table as above, just in a negative fashion. So a margin of failure of 2 would result in a moderate failure, meaning the jump came up short and now you have to pull yourself up or perhaps you slipped on the landing and have to step to catch yourself.

Dynamic Tests

These are slightly more complicated, but they are also going to be more common than static tests. Dynamic tests are any time you have opposed rolls to determine a winner, and a similar MoS table is followed.


Notice that the only difference is the MoS required to reach more impactful successes.

Think about it like this, typically you see one-sided domination in situations where the skill levels are grossly different. If Logan and I played Halo 3 against one another, I would maybe put my skill level at Fair to Good, and his at Superb, which puts him at a +5 to my +3 or +2. If we rolled the same, he still beats me pretty handily with a MoS of 2-3. However, if Logan played against someone who had never played before (i.e. a Mediocre skill level) he has an advantage of +5 and even with equal rolls, he will still dominant that noob. The purpose of the expanded number ranges in this is to show that people of similar skill level will very infrequently completely outshine one another.


Challenges are very similar to tests, except that a challenge is made up of several tests used to combine a series of small successes to achieve something that is typically a very high MoS. Challenges can be either static or dynamic, and could be used in a situation to solve a case for instance. You need multiple pieces of evidence and clues to get you moving on the right track to solve it. To do this, the table will still be built around margins of success, however certain clues or pieces of evidence would need larger margins of success to be achieved. This also means that since each piece of evidence has its own effective MoS, each level needs to be hit multiple times. The other aspect of this is if you hit a level more times than are necessary, you move to the next step up the table. So if you need 2 successes at MoS 1 and 1 at MoS 2, you could achieve the same result by getting 3 MoS 1 successes because the third success would slide you up to MoS 2. The only caveat with this is that this method only works to move you up as long as the ladder is continuous. In the example below, the ladder has a break in it for required successes. The last box that is separated (at MoS 3) is a piece of information that blows the case wide open, but requires a bit of skill to figure it out and therefore could not be cobbled together from the scene described without some impressive deduction.

In the example case, a woman is found dead in her home front apparent suicide. This is Collecting the evidence is deemed to be a Fair level, and the evidence is spread out over the MoS table with 2 pieces of evidence being somewhat obvious at MoS 0, 2 pieces being more difficult at MoS 1 and 1 piece being very difficult at MoS 3. The 2 pieces of evidence at MoS 0 would only require results of Fair to be successful and are easy to achieve, yielding the information that the victim was shot in the head behind her right ear and her position suggests she was kneeling when she shot herself. The clues that require MoS of 1 are slightly more difficult to find, and require successes of Good to achieve them. These clues tell the detective the gun used was not registered to the victim and she has no powder burns on her hands from the gun shot. The final clue is difficult to figure out with a MoS of 3 and requires a Superb to gain it. This success tells the detectives that the deceased was in financial crisis and got in deep with a bookie named Piotr Velich who works with the Russian mob. After all the clues are gathered you can confidently say you’ve got a murder on your hands and you know who to talk to next. You could have come to a conclusion that this wasn’t a suicide earlier from the successes at MoS 1, however the critical piece of information about her debts was only revealed after gaining all the evidence.

This example is long-winded, but it’s purpose is to show you how a challenge works, and also how you should look at a challenge while in one. I’m not going to tell you you’re in the middle of skill challenge, and I’m certainly not going to tell you how high you need to get to figure everything out. So use your instincts, and if you think that there is more you can find out about a situation go ahead and keep trying.

That’s a static challenge. I’ll discuss dynamic challenges in the Combat section.

Fate Basics

A Hard Day's Night nitroman801