A Time for Unreasonable Men
Fudge Dice and Fate Points
What Are Fudge Dice and Fate Points?
In SotC, dice rolls involve, in the most simple terms,
- the GM figuring out a difficulty (this should be a familiar concept)
- figuring out your base starting score from any Skills (in D&D terms, imagine this as your base attack bonus plus your strength bonus) or Stunts (in over-simplified D&D terms, this might be akin to an added amount for flanking) and
- rolling the dice.
In the Fate system, you roll four 6-sided dice in which two sides have a minus sign (meaning you subtract that from your base score), two have a plus sign (meaning you add that to you base score) and two have 0 (meaning no change). These are the fudge dice. Unlike D&D, where all rolls of your D20 are added to your base score, in the Fate system a roll of the Fudge dice can just as easily lead to a deduction.
You roll your dice and take the result – your base score, adjusted by any +’s or -’s and that gives you your final score. That final score is measured against a ladder to determine how successful – or how wretched – the outcome is. If the difficulty for opening a lock was set at average, then your total score needs to be at least +1 in order to succeed. (There are benefits to getting more than the required amount, which will be discussed elsewhere.)
An ultimate score of +8 leads to a “legendary” result, the sort of thing that songs are written about (or, at the very least, a chapter in a cheesy dime novel with lurid cover art). A final score of -2 is “terrible” – you’ve had the worst possible result, not only failing to disarm the bomb but accidentally knocking it into a room filled with angel-faced toddlers.
If it helps you to think of this way, consider Fate points like Action Points in D&D. (It might not help you all that much, since we don’t use Action Points in our D&D campaigns.) You start with a number of Fate Points equal to your Aspects. These can be represented physically by poker chips, just to help with the accounting.
The simplest use of Fate Points is to spend one to get a +1 to a roll, but you get the greatest bang for your buck by using them to gain a +2 through “invoking” an Aspect – as discussed elsewhere, an Aspect is some characteristic about you, someone else or even the environment that can be used to give you a benefit similar to a +2 circumstance bonus in D&D. You “buy” that circumstance bonus by handing over one of your Fate Points. (Some Stunts also require you to spend a Fate Point before you can use them.)
You get Fate Points back two ways. The easiest way for this to happen is to simply have them refresh between adventures – you will always get back to at least your starting level. If by chance you end an adventure with a number more than your base amount, you get to carry them over into the next adventure. So how do you get more than your base amount? The GM can “pay” you a Fate Point as part of “compelling” an Aspect—i.e., using some trait about you to impose a -2 circumstance penalty.
More info about Fate Points is available in the SRD.