Grade the Fate/Fate Core System

How do you feel about the Fate Core System? (or its predecessor, the Fudge system?)

  • I love it.

    Votes: 20 17.2%
  • It's pretty good.

    Votes: 27 23.3%
  • It's alright I guess.

    Votes: 22 19.0%
  • It's pretty bad.

    Votes: 9 7.8%
  • I hate it.

    Votes: 5 4.3%
  • I've never played it.

    Votes: 31 26.7%
  • I've never even heard of it.

    Votes: 2 1.7%


Limit Break Dancing (He/They)
Have you used the Fate/Fate Core System? It's the rules system used by Age of Arthur, Dawning Star, Diaspora, Starblazer, Legends of Anglerre, Jadepunk, and several other popular TTRPGs from the early and mid 2000s. What did you think of it?

I've only ever played one game with the Fate Core System (Fate of Cthulhu, the controversial adaptation of Call of Cthulhu that used it). And honestly? At least for CoC, I thought it worked pretty well! I don't really have anything bad to say about it. But for the uninitiated or unfamiliar, the Wikipedia describes it thusly:

Fate is a generic role-playing game system based on the Fudge gaming system. It has no fixed setting, traits, or genre and is customizable. It is designed to offer minimal obstruction to role-playing by assuming players want to make fewer dice rolls. Fate was written by Fred Hicks and Rob Donoghue; the 1st edition was published in early 2003,[1] and the latest version (4th edition) was published successfully through Kickstarter in 2013.
Fate is derived from the Fudge system, primarily that earlier design's verbal scale and Fudge dice, but most versions of Fate eschew the use of mandatory traits such as Strength and Intelligence. Instead, it uses a long list of skills and assumes that every character is "mediocre" in all skills except those that the character is explicitly defined as being good at. Skills may perform one or more of the four actions: attacking, defending, overcoming obstacles (a catch-all for solving problems) or creating an advantage (see below). Exceptional abilities are defined through the use of Stunts and Aspects.
An aspect is a free form descriptor of something notable about either the character or the scene. A relevant aspect can be invoked to grant a bonus to a die roll (either adding +2, or allowed a re-roll of the dice); this usually costs the player or GM a Fate point. Aspects may also be compelled to influence the setting by offering the person with the aspect a fate point (which they can refuse by spending one of their own) to put them at a disadvantage relevant to the aspect. An example given in the rule book refers to the GM invoking a player character's Rivals in the Collegia Arcana aspect to have said rivals attack them in the bath so they don't have access to their equipment. Situational aspects describe the scene, and may be created and used by the GM, or by players using the create advantage action with a relevant skill.
Stunts are exceptional abilities that grant the character a specific mechanical benefit; these may be drawn from a pre-defined list of stunts included in the rules, or created following guidelines provided by the authors. Aspects, on the other hand, are always defined by the player. For example, a player may choose to give their character an aspect of "Brawny" (or "Muscle Man" or "Wiry Strength"); during play, the player may invoke those aspects to gain a temporary bonus in a relevant situation. Aspects may also relate to a character's possessions, e.g., the character Indiana Jones for example, might have the Aspect "Whip and Fedora".
As I've said before in the other threads, the D20 System is the undeniable favorite for tabletop RPGs today, but there are plenty of options out there for those who don't like D20 or might be looking for something different. Fate has been around for 20 years now, which puts it in a strange place on the TTRPG timeline: it's too new for many people to consider it a "classic" game system, but it's also too old for some to consider it "modern."

So! If you've played the Fate or Fate Core System (or their parent, the Fudge system), please let us know what you think, what you love or hate about it, and the kinds of games you run with it. And if you've never played it, what's keeping you from giving it a spin? I'll collect everyone's votes and give the system a "grade" from A+ to F.

Grade: B-
Of those who voted, 98% have heard of it and 74% have played it.
Of those who have played it: 24% love it, 34% like it, 25% are lukewarm, 11% dislike it, and 6% hate it.

The "grade" is calculated as follows:
  • Votes from people who have not played it will not affect the grade.
  • "I love it" votes are worth 4 points. The highest score, comparable to an "A" vote.
  • "It's pretty good" votes are worth 3 points. The equivalent of a "B" vote.
  • "It's alright I guess" votes are worth 2 points. This is your basic "C" vote.
  • "It's pretty bad" votes are worth 1 point. This is considered a "D" vote.
  • "I hate it" votes are worth 0 points. The lowest score, considered an "F" vote.

The grading formula:
GPA = Σ(PiVi)

GPA = "grade-point average," the grading score used in the Key below.​
Vi = percentage of votes in each category (Love, Like, Meh, Dislike, or Hate)​
Pi = corresponding score for that category (4, 3, 2, 1, or 0)​

Over 3.75 = A+
3.51 to 3.75 = A
3.26 to 3.50 = A-
3.01 to 3.25 = B+
2.76 to 3.00 = B
2.51 to 2.75 = B-
2.01 to 2.50 = C+
1.76 to 2.00 = C
1.51 to 1.75 = C-
1.26 to 1.50 = D+
1.01 to 1.25 = D
0.75 to 1.00 = D-
Under 0.75 = F
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Limit Break Dancing (He/They)
As I said, I've only ever used the Fate Core System once, and it was years ago. A friend of mine wanted to introduce us to Call of Cthulhu, and the version he had used the Fate Core System. (This was shortly before all the controversy blew up about it, and before Evil Hat Productions, Fred Hicks, and Rob Donoghue started insulting people on Twitter. Had we waited just a few months later, I wouldn't have even wanted to try it out.)

Anyway. The thing I liked most about the Fate Core System was the focus on skills and abilities, rather than stats. This seems like a small change, but it makes a big difference in how the game feels...all characters are considered capable at everything: they can all read and write and climb and swim and think and sing and bandage wounds just as well as any other average person. That said, there are those who specialize in one or more of these things, and they are going to have some kind of numerical advantage (such as a flat bonus, or Advantage on a roll, or something.) At no point did anyone ever say something like "Let Bob do it, he's the strongest" or "Let Lucy talk to the guy, since her Charisma is the highest." A small difference, but a good one.

It's a lot more player-facing than most other game systems, also. Aspects of your character are always defined by you, the player: if you want to be a character that can juggle chainsaws, for example, you can create your own Aspect: Chainsaw Juggler and run with it.

These two things really, really work well for certain types of games, particularly ones that don't rely so much on tactical combat. So as a system, I voted "I liked it." I'd give it a passing grade of B.

Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
I love it.

As I've said before, Spirit of the Century (a pulp 1920s setting) was the first game that everyone at our table wanted to run. No game since has had that effect. It sparked our imagination and made players into GMs and then designers. FATE provided the backbone of our gaming from 2007-12 or so, and still gets pulled out.


It did a lot of trailblazing for narrative-gaming but other player-facing games are doing more for me now. I want Fate simplified and streamlined even further. I want Fate that's player-facing and have the success ladder ripped right out of it.
Remember when Savage Worlds came on the scene? It was amazing and "rules-lite" compared to D&D 3.5. Nobody would call SW rules-lite anymore. I feel the same about Fate when I play PbtA or FitD games,
"What's with all the number-crunching? Stacking Aspects with skills, stunts, and funky dice results, then comparing it to this ladder..."
All that really matters is if I fail, succeed, or succeed with style. I don't want to math so hard, lol.


B/X Known World
I love the system. My favorite official version is either the Atomic Robo RPG or Fate Accelerated. Absolute blast to play. That there’s negotiations after the dice are rolled is a sticking point for me, but the rest of the system is good enough to make up for it. Fate is my go-to pulp action-adventure system.


Name names! are there specific PbtA or FitD you'd point to as faves?
Lol, Just the main ones really. 1st edition Apocalypse World (2nd edition complexified things needlessly IMO) and Blades in the Dark. I made an AW reskin called "Hyborian Saga." Wicked Ones (FitD) looks awesome, but I haven't played it. For the kinds of changes I want to see in Fate, check out Tricube Tales. It's like Fate w/o stunts. Neon City Overdrive is also very interesting, but I don't like huge dice pools.


A suffusion of yellow
I love it, especially for modern-ish games. I really enjoy it for Pulp games (Spirit of the Century, Masters of Umdaar) and Fate Accelerated is awesome for Superhero since Aspects do so much heavy lifting for playing powers using the narrative to balance things. Once you get your head around the fact that EVERYTHING is an Aspect and everything can be invoked or compelled it becomes a freely flowing creative experience.

I appreciate FitD but generally find Playbooks and the prescriptive actions confusing - the Four Actions of Fate are so much easier to use
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