World:Gaslight Investigations/FATE Rules

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Gaslight Investigations/FATE Rules Index

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Roll Probabilities

This table was constructed by Omnis and may not be entirely accurate (I'm not a math wiz). Was derived from: Fudge Dice, the "Chance of rolling this result or higher" column (defines a successful attack).

Please note that if you are using this table to determine probability for defense, (+1) to the attack roll you are defending against to use as the difficulty. This is due to a success being defined as equal or greater and a defense has to actually BEAT the attack roll (making the effective difficulty +1).

Difficulty Modifier
+0 +1 +2 +3 +4 +5 +6
0 62% 81% 94% 99% 100% 100% 100%
1 38% 62% 81% 94% 99% 100% 100%
2 19% 38% 62% 81% 94% 99% 100%
3 6% 19% 38% 62% 81% 94% 99%
4 1% 6% 19% 38% 62% 81% 94%
5 0% 1% 6% 19% 38% 62% 81%
6 0% 0% 1% 6% 19% 38% 62%

Difficulty Explanations

Difficulty Action
0 Requires little effort or even thought.
1 Requires a small amount of effort.
2 A simple task, but requires a little effort. The average person will succeed about half the time.
3 A moderately difficult task.
4 Usually requires some training or for you to get lucky.
5 A difficulty task. You need to be really good to pull this off.
6 You’d better be an expert if you hope to succeed.

The Basics

Power Level Refresh Abilities(Max) Advantage Points Available Advantages
Expert 5 24 (3) 3 (1) Expert Only

The Basic Roll

4df + Ability Rank + Other Modifiers* vs. Difficulty (* From Aspects, Advantages, etc)

Myth-Weavers [roll] tag example: [roll=Fudge Dice roll +2]4dF+2[/roll]

Awesome vs. Realism

Unlike many other game systems, FATE does not try to simulate reality. Instead, the focus here is on telling a story, a shared narrative between the GM and players.

Often times what makes for a good story isn’t always realistic. When playing games using Strands of Fate, remember to think of it as a play, novel, comic book, or movie. The players can use their Fate Points to take over some control of the story, bringing to the forefront the different aspects of the unfolding story and its characters that they think are cool. While this may not always create a perfectly realistic result, it should always create an interesting one. “That was awesome!” is almost always more fun than “That was realistic.”

Character Creation

Step 1: The Character Concept

Sit down and think of a solid character concept. Don’t be afraid to bounce your character concept off the GM and other players.

Step 2: Character Aspects

Your character starts with a total of five character Aspects. One is called your Defining Aspect and is essentially your character’s concept summed up in just a few words. The other four are used to further define your character and are addressed below.

If you'd like a more structured way of picking your other 4 character aspects, feel free to use the "aspect alphabet":

“A” is for Ambition

“B” is for Background

“C” is for Convictions

“D” is for Disadvantages

What is an Aspect?

An Aspect is a phrase, sentence, or character quote that describes some aspect of your character. You can spend a Fate Point to gain a bonus because of your Aspect. This is called “invoking” an Aspect. An Aspect can also work against you, earning you a Fate Point. This is called “compelling” an Aspect.

Aspects should be both positive and negative, and should never be boring. Whenever you choose an Aspect, take a minute to ask yourself what kind of situations you can imagine using it for and what kind of trouble it might get you into. The very best Aspects suggest answers to both those questions.

When you’re picking Aspects, make sure you don’t get hung up on coming up with some clever play on words or being witty. What really matters is how useful your Aspect is. If you are iffy about an Aspect, try to think of two or three different ways that Aspect could come up in the game. How do you invoke it? How can it be compelled?

As a general rule when selecting Aspects, “Cool” should always outweigh “Powerful”.

Step 3: Abilities

Purchase ranks in abilities. You have 24 ability points to distribute and cannot exceed a maximum of rank 3 in any one ability.

While Character Aspects tell us who a character is, his Abilities tell us in a very general sense what he can do. Characters will have a rank defaulting to 0 in each of the following twelve Abilities. These Abilities are very broad interpretations of your character’s capabilities, which are further defined with Specialty Aspects and Advantages.

The twelve Abilities, and what they measure about your character, are listed below:

Physical Abilities:

Agility – speed, balance, hand‐eye coordination, hiding, moving quietly, manual dexterity, attacking with ranged weapons, etc.

Endurance – health, vigor, ability to withstand pain, toxins, sickness and diseases of the body, etc. Adds to your Physical stress Track.

Perception – the five senses, general awareness of your surroundings, reaction speed, etc.

Strength – raw physical might, lifting, dragging, pulling, attacking with melee weapons, etc. Adds to your Physical Stress Track.

Mental Abilities:

Craft – painting, carpentry, blacksmithing, demolitions, sculpting, programming, engineering, etc.

Knowledge – history, geography, computers, physics, chemistry, pop culture, literature, etc.

Reasoning – riddles, logic problems, math, short term memory, puzzles, etc. Adds to your Mental Stress Track.

Willpower – resisting seduction, addiction, brain washing, temptation, psychic assault, etc. Adds to your Mental Stress Track.

Social Abilities:

Deception – lying, seduction, cheating ,stealing, running long term cons jobs, casing an area, picking pockets, etc.

Empathy – sense other’s emotions, detect deception, help with psychological damage, etc.

Persuasion – bargaining, contacts, debate, intimidation, sex appeal, performance, etc. Adds to your Social Stress Track.

Resources – money, credit, collateral, home, means of transportation, etc. Adds to your Social Stress Track.

Ability Ranks and what they mean

Ability Rank What it means...
0 Almost handicapped. You may have some trouble in day to day life.
1 Below Average. People note your deficiencies.
2 Average. Most people have an Ability rank of 2.
3 Above Average. You are noticed for your talents.
4 Well Above Average. You are one of the most talented people for hundreds of miles.
5 Peak Human. Few people on the planet have this level of an Ability.

Step 4: Specialty Aspects

Specialty Aspects are what set your character apart from the masses. After you have allotted your Ability Points, you may now come up with five Specialty Aspects. These Aspects should strongly reflect some strength or weakness you have in a particular Ability. But remember, as with Character Aspects there is some benefit to having an Aspect that is a negative trait.

Note that Specialty Aspects are associated with an Ability (and an Ability may have multiple Specialties), but are not restricted to it. The purpose of this association is to better define the intent of the Aspect, not to strictly limit its use.

Like Character Aspects, you can look to the Aspect Alphabet as a guide for selecting Specialty Aspects:

“E” is for Exceptional Skill

“F” is for Foe(s)

“G” is for Gear

“H” is for Help

“I” is for Inferior Skill

Step 5: Advantages

Step 6: Starting Equipment

Fate Points & Aspects

Invoking an Aspect (Spending Fate Points)

  • +2 Bonus on the Dice Roll
  • Reroll the Dice
  • Invoke for Effect
  • You may also spend a Fate Point without invoking an Aspect but in those cases it merely grants you a +1 bonus.

Compelling an Aspect (Earning More Fate Points)

  • ‐2 Penalty on Your Dice Roll
  • You are Forced to Reroll the Dice
  • Something bad happens.

(Note that you do not gain a Fate Point when a persistent Aspect is compelled, and you must always pay a Fate Point to reject the compel.)

  • Active Compels – During the game something might happen that relates to one of your Aspects. In these situations, the GM may offer you a FP to “compel” that Aspect. Alternatively, you as the player may suggest to the GM that you have an Aspect that could be compelled.
  • Passive Compels – Occasionally the GM may plot the story ahead, taking the PCs’ Aspects into consideration as he does.

Compelling other Aspects

The GM isn’t the only one that can compel Aspects. Characters (PCs and NPCs) can spend their Fate Points to compel each other’s Aspects. When a player or NPC compels another character’s Aspects, the player offers the GM or player of the other character a Fate Point and picks one of the following results to inflict on his target:

  • ‐2 Penalty on the Character’s Dice Roll
  • Force the Character to Reroll the Dice
  • Compel for a negative effect on the Character. (Note that you still have to spend a Fate Point when compelling persistent Aspects in this way.)

The “compel for effect” option requires a bit more thought however. Effectively, the person offering the compel gains a bit of control over the other character’s destiny. The exact nature of the compel can be anything, but as always, it is subject to GM approval.

Wording vs. Intent

When a character takes an Aspect, he generally has some specific intent in mind in regards to how it will be used. For example, a character who takes the Surgeon at 300 Yards Aspect to demonstrate how good a sniper he is, should not also be able to invoke that Aspect when trying to grant medical attention to an ally. Just because the Aspect contains the word “surgeon”, doesn't mean the character knows anything about real surgery. The only way he knows how to open a heart is with a high powered rifle.

Persistent Aspects (“(P)”)

Denoted with a “(P)” at the end of the Aspect’s name. These Aspects impact a person, place, thing or scene to such a degree that it can be invoked or compelled for free. It does not cost a Fate Point to invoke a persistent Aspect and no one gets a Fate Point if it is compelled. Note, however, that invoking or compelling a persistent Aspect for effect still costs a Fate Point. See pg. 59 for more.

Temporary Aspect

An Aspect that goes away with time.

  • “Fragile” Aspects go away when compelled or invoked or after the round is over.
  • “Sticky” Aspects go away after they are intentionally removed or something happens to remove them. See Chapter 3 for more.


You may use your Perception, Reasoning or Empathy to study a person, place or thing in an effort to discover Aspects it may have. See pg.63 for more.


You may roll your Knowledge or Reasoning to declare that a person, place, or thing has an Aspect you get to specify. The more interesting the Declaration, the higher the chances are of success.

Any Aspects brought into play by these methods are considered “sticky” and do not have to go away after they’re used if the GM wishes them to persist (or if circumstances merely make it reasonable that they hang around). Any subsequent uses of such Aspects, however, will cost (or grant!)a Fate Point, as usual. See pg. 65 for more.

Expert Advantages

Expert Advantages are the special skills possessed by ordinary individuals. They represent some measure of training and/or natural talent. They cost one Advantage Point (AP) each and usually grant one of the following benefits:

  • +1 bonus on rolls to a certain type of action, no matter what Ability is used. When rolling to perform a task, such as engaging in a mental conflict to seduce another character, you gain a +1 bonus.
  • +2 bonus on specific uses of an Ability. This bonus should only apply to very specific uses of an Ability that’s likely to only occur rarely, such as a +2 bonus to Perception when attempting to read lips.
  • Substitute one Ability for another in specific situations. A character’s training in one Ability may bleed over into a field normally associated with a different Ability. For example, a martial artist may use Agility instead of Strength to attack unarmed or with melee weapons.
  • Special. Any small benefit the character may have, such as not forcing you to suffer the ‐1 penalty for taking a certain action as a supplemental action. These benefits should be small and function without the need of an Aspect.

Playing the Game

“Stacking” Bonuses and Penalties

Whether through invoking Aspects or by purchasing Advantages, there are a lot of ways to get bonuses and penalties applied to a roll. In Strands of Fate, almost everything “stacks”. This means that if you get a +2 bonus from one source and a +1 bonus from another, you may add those together for a total of a +3 bonus. So unless it is clearly stated otherwise, you can assume any bonuses or penalties you have stack with any others.

Effect Description

  • Success by 0 Minimal success – The character pulled it off. It’s neither pretty nor graceful, but it works, at least for now.
  • Success by 1 Notable success – This is a clear‐cut success. The character’s result is solid, reliable, and while it may not be inspired, it is absolutely workmanlike.
  • Success by 3 Significant success (Spin!) – The success is sufficient enough to be noticeably well done, and will be of fine quality, very reliable and so on. A significant or better success is said to have generated Spin (see below).
  • Success by 5 Potent success – Not only is the quality of the success remarkable, it may have some unexpected secondary benefits, such as a deeper insight into a problem at hand.


In its broadest sense, Spin is a special effect that occurs whenever the total result of a roll exceeds the difficulty the character is rolling against by 3 or more.

That special effect may simply be color – it may mean the character looked particularly cool, or is due some recognition for excellence. In some cases, as outlined in Abilities and elsewhere, generating Spin can result in an actual game effect.

In conflict, if a character gets Spin on a defense roll, he can add a +1 bonus to his next action attack roll against his attacker.

Other applications of Spin, found throughout this book, exist as well. But in general, it serves as an easy way of making note that a character has done particularly well on a roll. Whenever characters roll well enough to generate Spin, it’s time to sit up, pay attention, and spice up the details.

Maneuvers (placing a temporary aspect)

A Maneuver is an action taken to affect the environment, other people or even yourself in a way that creates a temporary Aspect. When a character flashes a bright light in an enemy’s eyes to place a temporary Blinded Aspect on him, or counts to ten and takes a deep breath to place a temporary Focused Aspect on himself – that’s a Maneuver.

To clarify, “actions” are the normal things a character can do in a round. “Maneuvers” are special actions taken specifically to set up temporary Aspects.

A Maneuver is either a simple action or a contest, with the difficulty or opposition determined by the nature of the Maneuver. A Maneuver that doesn’t target an opponent is resolved as a simple action. Most simple Maneuvers like this result in a character rolling against a GM‐set difficulty.

Types of Action

  • Simple Actions: Where the character spends his turn rolling against a fixed difficulty. If your total is equal to or higher than the difficulty, you are successful. (See page 257.)
  • Contests: Two or more characters roll to perform competing simple actions. The character whose dice roll plus modifiers has the highest total wins. (See page 257.)
  • Conflicts: When two or more characters act in direct opposition to one another, but where resolution is not as simple as a contest (See page 205.)
  • Extended Actions: Some actions simply cannot be resolved in the amount of time usually allotted to a basic action. This might be repairing a star ship’s FTL drive, write a novel, or trying to sway a crowd to your point of view.

Special Actions

  • Hold Your Action: A character can opt not to act when his turn comes around. When a character takes a hold action, he has the option of taking his turn any time later in the round. If he holds his turn through the round, he starts the next round at the top of the initiative order. If multiple characters did this, they can make contested Agility rolls to see who goes first.
  • Block Action: When the character’s action is preventative – trying to keep something from happening rather than taking direct action
  • Full Defense: A character can opt to do nothing but protect himself in a conflict. By using a simple action entirely to defend himself, he gains a +2 on all defense rolls until his next turn.
  • Supplemental Action: Imposes a -1 on the character’s primary simple action roll.

Conflict & Consequences

Types of Conflict

  • Physical Conflict – A fight with fists, knives, guns, etc.
  • Mental Conflict – An argument, debate, or confrontation with something that potentially changes or damages your mind.
  • Social Conflict – A public conflict that can change or damage your reputation and/or legal status.

Running Conflicts

Before a conflict begins, follow these simple steps:

  1. Frame the Scene
    1. Reveal Aspects
    2. Determine Zones
  2. Establish Initiative
    1. Physical Conflict: Perception
    2. Mental Conflict: Empathy
    3. Social Conflict: Empathy
  3. Determine Actions

Attacking & Defending (common examples)

Physical Conflict
Intent Attacking Ability Defending Ability
Touch Agility Agility
Unarmed Attack Strength Agility or Endurance
Ranged Attack Agility Agility
Melee Attack Strength Agility
Poison or Disease Varies Endurance
Mental Conflict
Intent Attacking Ability Defending Ability
Debate a Topic Persuasion Willpower
Intimidate into Submission Persuasion Willpower
Lying about your Motives Deception Empathy
Bribe an Official Resources Willpower
Barter for a Better Price Persuasion or Deception Willpower
Social Conflict

Setting up a social attack may take one or more scenes, or possibly be spread over a number of game sessions that culminate in a single conflict scene. This attack roll works like any other. You select an Ability to attack with, and the defender selects an Ability to defend with.

Unlike physical and mental conflicts, you are not doing direct damage to your opponent; you are actually influencing society’s view of the defender.

Physical Movement in a Conflict

On your turn you may move into a different zone using one of the following options. (Note that the basic types of actions are described on page 257.)

  • Standard Move – You move into an adjacent zone. This is a simple action or it can be taken as a supplemental action (see page 261), incurring the standard ‐1 penalty on all other actions performed. If the transition between zones is hampered, say requiring you to climb a ladder, it may cause you to suffer additional penalties on any other actions you perform. More difficult obstacles probably require a full simple action to traverse.
  • Hustle – If you hustle, you may move across one zone and into the next. This can either be a simple action or a supplemental action like Move, but any other action you perform on this turn suffers a ‐2 in addition to any other penalties you might suffer.
  • Run – Running works the same as hustling and allows you to move across one zone and into the next, but you may also roll your Agility against a difficulty of 2. For every point by which your roll exceeds 2, you may move one additional zone. However, if taken as a supplemental action, you also suffer a ‐4 penalty on all other simple actions taken this turn. This penalty is added to any penalties you might suffer from traversing a difficult environment or obstacle.

Taking on Stress

The difference between the attacker’s attack roll and the defender’s defense roll is suffered by the defender as stress of the appropriate type.

You only have one row of stress boxes for each type of stress (Physical, Mental & Social), and when that row is filled, you are Defeated. However, as you suffer stress, you may elect to suffer a Consequence to reduce the amount of stress you take. The amount of stress each type of Consequence negates is listed below:

- Minor: Negates 2 points of stress

- Major: Negates 4 points of stress

- Severe(P): Negates 6 points of stress

- Extreme(P): Negates 8 points of stress

Note that you must take the Consequence at the time the stress is delivered. You may not later remove stress from your Stress Track by applying a Consequence. Also you may never have more than one Consequence of the same type per Stress Track, and you may only take one Consequence per attack.

So, for example, if you have six stress boxes and suffer five points of stress, you can either:

1. Take the five points of stress and check five stress boxes. This means that you can only take one more point of stress before being Defeated(P).

2. Take a Minor Consequence to reduce the amount of stress you suffer from five to three.

3. Take a Major Consequence and reduce the amount of stress you take from five to one.

4. Or take a Severe Consequence and reduce the amount of stress you take by six, effectively negating all of the stress taken.


If you suffer too much stress on your Stress Track, you must take a special kind of Aspect called a Consequence. There are four types of Consequence ‐ Minor, Major, Severe(P) and Extreme(P). As you take Consequences, and they are compelled, you become less and less effective at performing.


You may choose to end a conflict on your terms. If you offer a Concession to your opponent and it is accepted, you gain a FP. If he refuses and the offer was a fair one, he loses a FP. See pg. 208 for more.


The exact nature of Defeat depends largely on what type of conflict you lost. For a physical conflict, it could mean a coma or even death. A mental conflict could reduce you to a gibbering vegetable, while a social conflict could land you in prison or exiled for life. See Chapter 6 for more.

Healing Stress and Consequences

Healing Roll:

  • Physical: Endurance
  • Mental: Willpower
  • Social: Persuasion

Consequence Healing Time/Difficulty

  • Minor (Downgrades to no Consequence in 1 Scene for Physical & Mental. For Social, it downgrades in 1 Week, no roll required)
  • Major (Downgrades to Minor, or just clears, in 1 Day for Physical & Mental. For Social, it downgrades in 1 Month, Diff: 2)
  • Severe(P) (Downgrades to Major in 1 Week for Physical & Mental. For Social, it downgrades in 3 Months, Diff: 4)
  • Extreme(P) (Downgrades to Severe in 1 Month for Physical & Mental. For Social, it downgrades in 1 Year, Diff: 6)
  • Defeated(P) (Downgrades to Minor in 3 Months for Physical & Mental. For Social, it downgrades in 3 Years, Diff: 8) – Assuming it can be recovered from at all.