FATE Core is a wonderful system for creativity. It encourages GMs to create fantastic worlds and encounters, and it grants a lot of freedom to players to do whatever it is that they want to do. In fact, the scope of possibilities is so vast that it can be daunting.
If you’ve been playing any FATE games for a while with the same group, you may notice that everyone tends to get comfortable in a role after some time. I am not saying this is a bad thing. A good game SHOULD get easier to play with time. The less you stress, the less you mess.
But just in case you are looking for a chance to experiment with the FATE system and possibly stretch your imagination a bit, here are some challenges to think about trying in your next game.
Challenge 1: Create a Key Advantage
This challenge explores one of the unique features you can do with any skill in FATE. The goal is to use a skill to Create an Advantage and then make that advantage the cornerstone of the encounter. This means you use this advantage on every other check for the encounter, for as long as you can.
Most often skills are used to Attack, Defend, or Overcome. If you Create an Advantage, it is usually to boost one of these other abilities later in an encounter. But advantages are also wonderful springboards for encounter creativity.
There are many directions you can go with this, so try to embrace the chaos. Use Crafts to pop a fire hydrant for a Steady Water Stream advantage, then use the water to make a Slippery Floor or focus the water into a Forceful Water Stream. Put a Painted Target on the ground and Provoke people to step on it. Use your Resources to provide a Delicious Buffet and then make sure you talk to people with their Mouth Full or use peppers to make it an Unbearably Spicy Buffet.
Challenge 2: Boost Your Underused Skills
Notice, Athletics, and Fight are often used in EVERY game you play of FATE Core, but some skills are rarely used if at all. You gave your character a skill that you wanted them to use, right? Why not see just how much you can do with that skill!
Depending on the people playing the game, this challenge may get a lot of “No, you can’t do that” comments. That’s ok. This challenge is really just about finding what you CAN do. Even if several of your ideas get shot down (and tell us if they do), you should be able to find at least 1 new idea that works.
For example, in the Dresden RPG (based on FATE), you could use Guns to actually chat about firearms and check to see how much knowledge you had about guns. Maybe you could use Driving to do the same thing about vehicles, or maybe even us it as a Social Skill with other people that like fast cars.
Challenge 3: Spend a Fate Point for Effect
Don’t get me wrong, a +2 bonus goes a LONG way in FATE and is definitely worth letting bad things happen to you so you can collect fate points. But many players and GMs alike steer clear of invoking aspects for effect. So why not challenge yourself to give it a try?
Start with scene aspects and have some fun. Zombies walking on a Creaking Floor? Spend a fate point to have the floor collapse under them so now there is a Zombie-filled Hole in the floor. Boring Dinner Party not going your way? Spend a fate point to set everything on fire so it is now an Inflamed Dinner Party with Panicking Guests.
If you are feeling up to an extra challenge, try invoking NPC and character aspects for effects. Get a Greedy Merchant to try to pick your pockets in broad daylight. Have a Lonely Hobo fall in love with someone’s character. Convince your Curious Scholar to poke a sleeping dragon with a stick.
The best part of this challenge is that if your invokes are refused by a GM or another player, they have to pay you a fate point and return your own to you. It’s a great way to collect fate points without having bad things happen to you, so long as you don’t aggravate anyone in your group with your antics.
Challenge 4: Invent Your Own Stunt
Every FATE-based book that I have read so far that lists stunts includes a statement to clarify that the stunts listed are EXAMPLES and not the exclusive list. So why not use the examples and make your own?
The rules for inventing basic stunts are fairly simple. Give your skill a +2 in rare circumstances, a +1 in general circumstances, or allow a skill to do something specific that you would normally use another skill for. Feel free to take your rejected ideas from Challenge #2 as inspiration for that last one.
For more advanced ideas, think about some of the crazier stunts that FATE-based games have come up with. Maybe get a +4 to one skill check by having your defense skills dropped to a -2. Maybe so something special with dice rolls, like rolling 5 or only re-rolling the non + sides when you spend a fate point. Or prevent someone from rolling a specific defense skill when you attack.
Don’t make a game-breaker. Just make something your GM will approve that you can have fun using in game.
Challenge 5: Come Up With Your Own Challenge
We’ve already given you a few challenges to complete. Now it is your turn. There is so much you can do with FATE. Why not think about something you’ve always wanted to do and then do it? Better yet, post your challenge here or send us an email and we’ll try to tackle them as best we can!
If nothing else, these challenges should provide you with a fun way to try something new in a game. Perhaps in a later blog or podcast we will have some more specific challenges for you to try.