Wednesday, 31 July 2013

D&D/Pathfinder style FATE hack - Could Classes be used as Approaches to minimise D&D hack skill list?


A few comments (from Jonathan Dietrich, Christopher Stilson and a couple of others) on my initial post regarding thoughts about a D&D/fack hack (available here http://wh40krpg.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/d-style-fate-hack-abilities-and-skills.html) got me thinking about the complexity and the size of the skill list; initially my thoughts has been just to port over the Abilities and Skills from D&D, but Jonathans comment about not "understand[ing] why one would want to add [that] much to a Fate game" made me consider whether I was infact just keeping the Abilities and Skills because they would make the hack more obviously D&D inspired rather than because it would result in a better gaming experience. My main goal (and i'd hope the goal of gamesmasters everywhere) in RP has always been to create a game where both players and the GM are enjoying themselves and becoming immersed in the events occurring in-game; I have always thought that one of the main obstacles to this IMO is the 'crunchiness' of some rules systems (although I am sure there are people who love the crunch and would disagree with me), the more book-flipping and table referencing I have to do then the less I find myself drawn into and enthusiastic about the game. This one of the main reasons why FATE and particularly FAE are two of my favourite systems at the moment, the rules are easy to understand, play with a minimum of rulebook flipping (I generally just have a copy of the fate ladder, skill list and cheatsheet on the table during a game) and focus more on creating an interesting narrative than being an accurate simulation of what is occurring in-game.

Christopher Stilson made a comment regarding classes in the game; i've never been a fan of classes personally and had always favoured the D20 variants that eliminated or minimised the impacts of classes (often house-ruling them away in games i've run), however, they are an iconic part of D&D and one that instantly allows the players to get some sort of handle on their character's place in the party. Flipping some of the toolkit material I have, there is a section that talks about altering or expanding the default Skill list used in FATE core, one suggestion is to replace them altogether with a number of 'professions' that players have a rating in; this strikes me as very much like the Approaches in FAE (and indeed it can't be a coincidence that in the same chapter it discusses Approaches next) and made me wonder whether or not it would be possible to approach characters in a FAE-like fashion but using profession/approaches rather than a list of skills?

The classes listed in the Pathfinder SRD are:

  • Barbarian: The barbarian is a brutal berserker from beyond the edge of civilized lands.
  • Bard: The bard uses skill and spell alike to bolster his allies, confound his enemies, and build upon his fame.
  • Cleric: A devout follower of a deity, the cleric can heal wounds, raise the dead, and call down the wrath of the gods.
  • Druid: The druid is a worshiper of all things natural—a spellcaster, a friend to animals, and a skilled shapechanger.
  • Fighter: Brave and stalwart, the fighter is a master of all manner of arms and armor.
  • Monk: A student of martial arts, the monk trains his body to be his greatest weapon and defense.
  • Paladin: The paladin is the knight in shining armor, a devoted follower of law and good.
  • Ranger: A tracker and hunter, the ranger is a creature of the wild and of tracking down his favored foes.
  • Rogue: The rogue is a thief and a scout, an opportunist capable of delivering brutal strikes against unwary foes.
  • Sorcerer: The spellcasting sorcerer is born with an innate knack for magic and has strange, eldritch powers.
  • Wizard: The wizard masters magic through constant study that gives him incredible magical power.


FAE features 6 Approaches (Careful, Clever, Flashy, Forceful, Quick, and Sneaky) so I decided to see whether I could boil down the PF SRD Classes into approximately half a dozen Approaches that could be used in a FATE D&D-style game.


  1. Barbarian, Fighter, Monk, Paladin and Ranger  all have martial abilities (whether in hand to hand or ranged combat) as part of their Class makeup, so I decided to create an Approach called WARRIOR to cover this.
  2. Bards, Rogues and Thieves all rely (to a certain extent) on misdirection and cunning to carry out their crafts so I would create an Aspect called THIEF.
  3. Bards, Clerics, Druids, Paladins, Sorcerors and Wizards all make use of magic and so I made a SPELLCASTER Aspect to cover this.
  4. Clerics, Druids, Monks and Paladins all have a religious or faith aspect to them and so I created a PRIEST Aspect.
  5. Barbarians, Druids and Rangers all spend a lot of their time out in the wilderness and so possibly some sort of BARBARIAN Aspect may be necessary.


Looking at the Aspects created I would have them used as follows (selecting one at Good (+3), two at Fair (+2), two at Average (+1) and one at Mediocre (+0) as per the FAE rulebook):


  1. WARRIOR - rolled for attacking or defending from attack using physical means, taking care of armour, working out battle-tactics, recognising ambushes and initiative order in combat.
  2. THIEF - sleight of hand, stealing things, breaking and entering, deception.
  3. SPELLCASTER - casting spells (obviously), working out what spells other people were casting, crafting magic items, examining magic items, feats of prestigitation, etc
  4. PRIEST - interacting with church/holy order members, researching/recalling information about gods and their followers, making blessings, etc
  5. BARBARIAN - interacting with savage societies, wilderness survival checks, moving about unseen in the undergrowth.
  6. CIVILISED - interacting with civilised people, blending in with the city crowd, attending society functions, etc (I would probably make some rule that at character gen your civilised and barbarian Aspects have to be at least two levels apart (ie. if you had Civilised +3 then the highest you could have for Barbarian at character gen would be +1))

This is just one possible avenue of thought and will probably be tweak and refined before it sees any use.