Fate is the essential difference that marks the character as an adventurer, rather than an ordinary run-of-the-mill citizen. Adventurer characters have a destiny, a mission, a definite goal in life. They may not be aware of what this is. It may not be very glorious, it may not even be particularly pleasant, but the character is marked out by the gods to do it - whatever it is.
Because your adventurers are marked by Fate, they are unlikely to be cut in two by the first goblin to swing an axe in their direction - they are marked for better things!
To represent this, characters are alloted a number of Fate Points, which can be used during the game to save them from serious injury or death.
|Humans:||D3+1 Fate Points|
D3-1 Fate Points
|Dwarfs:||D3 Fate Points|
|Halflings:||D4 Fate Points|
|Gnomes:||D3 Fate Points|
Fate Points may aslo be gained and lost as a result of divine action.
Fate Points are used to save a character from certain death; by expending a Fate Point, a character can live again to fight another day. For example, a character may expend a Fate Point in order to ignore a critical hit result which would otherwise have proved fatal - the character is knocked unconscious rather than killed and wakes up having been left for dead or is merely grazed by the killing blow. A character who falls off a cliff can expend a Fate Point in order to walk away unharmed - saved by a million-to-one chance such as a bush or a patch of exceptionally soft sand.
As you can see, Fate Points are powerful things and players should be reminded that they are precious. Once a character has spent a Fate Point, it is gone - Fate Points are not recovered like W points and once a character has run out, he or she can cheat death no longer.
What Are Fate Points?Edit
The function of Fate Points is threefold:
First, they allow our Heroes to make miraculous escapes, as in all the best adventure stories. Adventurers can dodge falling stone blocks by a whisker, survive slipping off a cliff by landing in a convenient patch of bushes, run unscathed through a hail of arrows, and so on. With hairs-breadth escapes and twists of fate, players are willing to risk their characters, making for a faster and more exciting game than would otherwise be the case.
Secondly, Fate Points reflect the idea that our heroes have a destiny which sets them above the rest of the world. Just as in films, John Wayne can make it to the machine-gun nest with marines being cut down around him, so our adventurers can take great risks - and get away with them.
Lastly, combat is more dangerous than in other RPGs. This is partly because combat is dangerous in real life and partly because if combat is always the easy way out, players will be less inclined to try something a little more subtle, like thinking! Obviously, there will be some occasional when fighting is the only course of action and, even in the ordinary run of things, characters can get killed very easily if the players don't learn caution. Fate Points can give the rash player a second chance and the unlucky player an even break. Of course, if the players insist on rushing into every situation, waving swords about, they will quickly run out of Fate Points and permanent death with follow with grim inevitability. Most players will get the idea fairly quickly and realise that a gung-ho approach is not necessarily the best.
When To Use Fate PointsEdit
Basically, a Fate Point can be expended whenever a character is about to die - in combat, through traps or accidents, as a result of poison or disease, or in any other circumstances. Instead of dying, the character expends a Fate Point and then the gamesmaster has to devise some way of ensuring that the character survives.
How To GM Fate PointsEdit
When a character expends a Fate Point, it is up to the gamesmaster to come up with something that will prevent the character dying. No doubt the player in question will be full of helpful suggestions, but you should be careful to ensure that the character is not too much better off as a result of expending a Fate Point. The character should survive the situation, but that's it. It can sometimes be difficult to come up with a suitably tailored deus ex machina on the spur of the moment, so here are some ideas.
Here is the wrong way to deal with Fate Points in combat:
Clem Shirelock is in a hard fight with a band of Chaos Mutants. He has been reduced to 0 W and a critical hit result indicates that he is about to have his head removed by a neatly swung axe. Clem's player spends a Fate Point. The gamesmaster ignores the critical effect, but Clem is still at 0 W, so the next hit Clem takes is another critical. Clem's player spends another Fate Point...
At this rate, Clem will get through his three Fate Points in as many rounds; their only effect will be that he will die three rounds later than he would have done otherwise.
Let's try that again:
Clem takes a hit which takes him below 0 W. It is a hit to the body and the critical result indicates that he will be disembowelled and die immediately. Clem's player spends a Fate Point and is told by the gamesmaster that everything goes black. While the player is wondering what has happened, the gamesmaster makes a note that Clem has been struck by the flat of the blade and flung against the wall, hitting his head and knocking himself unconscious. He may wake up several hours later (still on 0 W) to find himself being tended by his victorious comrades; imprisoned in the mutants' lair with his defeated comrades; left for dead, stripped of all equipment and valuables, and all alone.
The trick is to use your imagination. This can also provide an opportunity to direct things if the players have gone a little off the track. You, the gamesmaster, control when and where characters wake up and you can use this to your advantage. If, for example, the adventurers have missed a vital clue about the lair of the evil Necromancer, they may wake up in a small village, having been found left for dead in the forest. As their wounds are tended, the villagers will tell them about the black tower beyond the wood, where hideous screams are heard at night, and about the recently dug graves which have been found torn open, apparently from the inside...
There are also some things you will have to watch. Remember, the players know that the character who expended a Fate Point isn't dead, but their characters don't. You must make sure that the players act accordingly. You should also avoid being vindictive yourself - if a character appears to be dead, an Orc or mutant will leave him/her and move on to another foe; they won't generally have another few stabs 'just to make sure'.
Traps And AccidentsEdit
When a character expends a Fate Point to avoid being killed by a trap or some other mischance, there are two possible approaches to what happens next:
The Adventure Movie Method - The spikes, spears, falling blocks, or whatever, miss by a whisker, grazing the character's armour, possibly destroying a backpack or some other item of equipment, but leaving the character unscathed.
The Cartoon Method - The character is spiked, or speared, or flattened, or whatever, but he walks away. W may be reduced to zero and some or all of the character's equipment may be destroyed, but the character is still just about alive.
Poison And DiseaseEdit
When a character expends a Fate Point to avoid death from poison or disease, the effects of the poison or disease miraculously stop when the character is on the point of death and normal recovery ('enhanced' as usual by medical attention) can begin immediately. For example:
Clem Shirelock is bitten in the leg by a Giant Rat in the course of an adventure and the gamesmaster rolls a D100 to see if the bite carries the Black Plague. It does and Clem must make a Disease test, rolling his T x 10 or less on D100 in order to avoid the infection. Clem's T is 3 and the player rolls 98 - a failure. A week or so later, Clem is struck down with the Plague and becomes progressively worse over the next few days. After five days, his S and T reach zero and the player expends a Fate Point to prevent Clem from dying.
Clem lapses into a coma and, for two days, he hovers on the brink of death. On the third day, he opens his eyes and asks for food - he has begun to recover.
How Characters Gain Fate PointsEdit
Fate Points are an undeniably valuable commodity. The next question is, of course, how does a character get any more? There are four ways in which a character can acquire Fate Points:
Character Generation - Every PC acquires Fate Points at the generation stage. This is explained above.
Divine Favour 2 - At the gamesmaster's option, a deity may give a character a Fate Point instead of a blessing. As with all blessings, the character in question must be genuinely deserving and must have done the deity a great service, such as performing some quest (not a Trial) at the deity's behest. As with the Advance tables, only one Fate Point is awarded.
Adventuring - If a character succeeds in staving off a great, world-shaking menace of divine origin (such as the machinations of a Chaos God), a Fate Point may be awarded along with the usual Experience Points. The menace must be apparant that, but for the character's action, an appalling disaster would have taken place. Don't let any fast-talking players convince you that wiping out a couple of dozen cultists is the same thing.
Characters may not buy Fate Points with Experience Points under any circumstances. Never, never, never. No how, no way.
How Characters Lose Fate PointsEdit
Just as characters can gain Fate Points through divine favour, so they can lose them through divine disfavour. A bad roll on the Cleric/Druid Advance Tables have this effect and Fate Points can also be lost as the reverse of a blessing. If a character does a deity a great disservice, the deity may strip the character of a Fate Point until suitable reparation is made.
A character who sells out to Chaos and becomes a Chaos Warrior or a Chaos Sorceror exchanges all his/her Fate Points for Chaos Gifts and an easy road to power.
NPCs and Fate PointsEdit
As a rule, NPCs do not have Fate Points - part of their funtion, as explained above, is to distinguish the PCs from the rest of the world.
However, you may allow an NPC to have Fate Points under special circumstances. Say you are developing an NPC who is going to be the bane of the characters' lives for a long time to come: a mega-baddie of the stature of Fu Manchu or Professor Moriarty. The players may think that their enemy has been defeated, but by using Fate Points they villain lives on to fight another day. After enough time to recover, re-equip, and recruit new henchmen, he reappears at an opportune moment to take a devastating revenge.
You should keep this sort of treatment for special occasions, however, It will be easy to demoralise the players if every minor villain they encounter develops the habit of coming back to get them after being 'killed' three or four times.
However, if you give a few Fate Points to the one leading baddie in your campaign and have him or her pop up a couple of times to get one back on our heroes, it can keep them on their toes. Be careful not to let the players cotton onto what's happening, though, or they will take to dismembering and burning every body they can 'just to be sure'.
Be imaginative when GMing the use of Fate Points, as it can add a lot to the tension and enjoyment of the game. Secondly, be mean in handing them out. Each Fate Point effectively gives a character an extra life and that makes them very powerful and precious things indeed. Spreading too many of them about will lead players to adopt a gung-ho attitude every time, which devalues both the concept of Fate Points and the game itself.