Random Character Creation In Fate Core
by Philippe Saner
Ever wish that you could literally roll up a Fate character? Roll some dice, consult some tables, and watch a character take shape before your eyes? If so, today’s your lucky day! In this article, I present a lifepath system that creates a character from four simple rolls and a series of tables.
The system presented here has four primary goals: speed, surprise, interest, and balance. In other words, the lifepath system quickly produces characters that are consistently interesting, fun to play, and more or less equally viable and effective.Let’s get started!
Venture City Tables
If you’re playing a Venture City game, I’ve done all of the work you need to use the lifepath system. If you want to create characters in another setting, you need to spend some time making tables, which can be pretty fun if you like to tinker with tables.
There are five phases to creating a character in this system. In each of the first four phases, you roll four fate dice and use your result to pick a cell on a table like this one:
|Venture City Powers|
If you roll 0000, pick the top left cell. For each + you roll, move one cell to the right. For each - you roll, move one cell down. For example, if you roll ++-0 you’d end up at Speedster on this table.
In your chosen cell, you’ll find a prompt like Flamer, Telepathy, or Regeneration. You can use this prompt directly as one of your character aspects, but I encourage you to reword and reshape it to suit your character better.
Tomas rolls +--- on the Venture City Powers table and gets Insect for his prompt. He decides to create the aspect Part of the Hive to represent his connection to the insect kingdom.
In addition to helping you create aspects, each prompt also corresponds to a set of skills. Perhaps a Flamer has Good (+3) Provoke and Good (+3) Shoot. Although the skills vary with each prompt, you get the same skill points from each table; e.g., the table in the first phase will always grant you one skill at Fair (+2) and three skills at Average (+1). If you roll through all four phases, you can count on getting three Good skills, three Fair skills, and four Average skills.
Tomas looks at the full prompt for Insect and finds that it gives him Good (+3) Notice and Good (+3) Physique. He notes those both down on his character sheet.
It’s likely that you’ll get some duplicate skills. If you do, don’t add them together. Just note that you got a duplicate.You’ll address those in the final step of character creation.
Sometimes a prompt gives you a stunt or extra in addition to filling in your skill slots. For example, a Flamer might get the Flamer superpower directly from Venture City.
On occasion, a prompt also affects how you roll during the following phase or phases. I’ll explain more about that in a moment.
Finalizing the Character
Regardless, the first four phases are fairly simple. Roll, consult the table for your prompt, follow the instructions, then move on to the next phase and next table.
The fifth phase is a bit more complicated. There are five parts to it.
- Raise one of your Good (+3) skills to Great (+4).
- If there are duplicate skills on your sheet, erase all but the highest entry for each skill. This opens up some empty spaces in your skill pyramid; for each empty space, add one to a skill from the level below it. This opens up another empty space; fill it the same way. Repeat until you have ten different skills.
- Buy stunts (if you have slots available).
- Decide on a high concept for your character and fiddle with your other aspects until you’re satisfied with them.
- Look over your character sheet as a whole, and change whatever you think needs changing. It’s your character, so feel free to tweak the results the system gives you.
And that’s it! A quick four rolls, and you’ve got a new Fate character ready to go. Read on for some examples that show you how the system works in greater detail.
Venture City Tables
The following tables can be used to generate a superhero or a supervillain in Venture City. They’re here partly so you can use them, and partly so you can see how lifepath-based character creation works.
Phase One: Upbringing
The first phase tells you what your childhood was like and whether you’re a have or a have-not. It gives you a Fair skill and three Average skills.
|Recent Immigrant||Raised by a Corp||Athletic Child||Self-Made Success||Corporate Heir|
|Mafia Family||Wageslave Family||Professional Family||Academic Child||Criminal Child|
|Underclass||Rural Family||Wash-Out||Anarchist Family||Homeless|
This table has a special corporate mechanic: If you get more + than -, you’re part of the corporate hierarchy. If you get more - than +, you’re not. If you get an equal number of each, you can decide whether or not you’d like to be corporate.
You were a bright child, and you were educated well. +2 Lore, +1 Crafts, +1 Investigate, +1 Resources
Your parents were genuinely anti-corporate, and raised you accordingly. +2 Lore, +1 Contacts, +1 Empathy, +1 Will
You displayed real athletic potential as a child, and once aimed at professional sports. +2 Athletics, +1 Physique, +1 Stealth, +1 Will
You’ve been stealing since you were small. Maybe you learned it from your parents, maybe not. +2 Burglary, +1 Deceive, +1 Notice, +1 Stealth
At least one of your parents was highly ranked in a major corporation. You were raised to be like them. +2 Contacts, +1 Deceive, +1 Rapport, +1 Resources
Your parents were homeless. You slept in shelters or on the streets, with one eye open either way. +2 Notice, +1 Burglary, +1 Stealth, +1 Will
Your parents were criminals. The kind that belong to a very scary organization. +2 Contacts, +1 Provoke, +1 Resources, +1 Will
Your parents were middle-managers or other ordinarily well-off people. +2 Resources, +1 Contacts, +1 Lore, +1 Physique
Raised by a Corp
You grew up in a privately-run orphanage. It was rough, and it made you tough. +2 Provoke, +1 Notice, +1 Physique, +1 Will
You grew up a long way from Venture City. +2 Empathy, +1 Notice, +1 Rapport, +1 Will
You grew up in the rural area around Venture City and came to the big city in search of opportunity. +2 Crafts, +1 Athletics, +1 Drive, +1 Physique
You started out with nothing and fought your way to a decent life within the corporate hierarchy. +2 Will, +1 Provoke, +1 Rapport, +1 Resources
Your parents were like wageslaves, but without the security or the comfort. +2 Physique, +1 Athletics, +1 Crafts, +1 Will
You were raised by corporate drones. It was weirdly normal. +2 Drive, +1 Contacts, +1 Empathy, +1 Resources
You had opportunities. You pissed them away, despite other people being very willing to help you. +2 Rapport, +1 Contacts, +1 Deceive, +1 Empathy
Phase Two: Career
The second phase tells you either what you did before you got your powers or what you do now, depending on what you roll. There are two tables here; the first is for corporate characters and the second is for non-corporate ones. They both give you a stunt, a Good (+3) skill, a Fair (+2) skill, and an Average (+1) skill.
|Lucky Nobody||Researcher||Corporate Security||Corporate Spy||Excellent Worker|
|Doctor||A-List Hero||Manager||PR Specialist||Experiment|
|Bought Powers||B-List Hero||Private Police||Anti-Hero||Politican|
You’re one of the ones in the lime-light. A crime-fighting mascot. +3 Rapport, +2 Contacts, +1 Will
Famous (Rapport): Add +2 to Rapport when you create an advantage related to your excellent reputation.
You’re a superhero who, for branding reasons, is expected to be gritty and badass and not a boy scout. +3 Provoke, +2 Physique, +1 Will
Famous (Provoke): Add +2 to Provoke when you create an advantage related to your fearsome reputation.
You’re a hero too, but you’re less about publicity and more about accomplishing things. +3 Will, +2 Notice, +1 Physique
Indomitable (Will): Fate Core System, page 127.
You’re rich, and one day you decided to buy yourself some powers. Simple, eh? +3 Resources, +2 Contacts, +1 Lore
Money Talks (Resources): Fate Core System, page 123.
You’re a soldier, using your powers to protect and serve upper management. +3 Burglary, +2 Notice, +1 Contacts
Security Specialist (Burglary): Fate Core System, page 99.
You were hired and empowered secretly, to help your employers in ways that can’t be made public. +3 Stealth, +2 Deceive, +1 Burglary
Corporate Backing (Contacts): Once per scene, you may spend a fate point to ask your corporate masters three questions. They will respond with the best information they have on hand.
You were a doctor, one of the many that the creation of superheroes requires. +3 Lore, +2 Resources, +1 Will
Medic (Lore): Add +2 to Lore when you help someone recover from physical consequences or injuries.
You were a wageslave. A very loyal one. When the corp needed someone reliable, your name came up. +3 Will, +2 Contacts, +1 Resources
Undying Loyalty (Will): Add +2 to Will when your loyalty to the company is tested.
You were a subject in experimental bodily-enhancement research. You’re lucky to be alive. +3 Physique, +2 Athletics, +1 Notice
Hard to Kill (Physique): You have an additional mild physical consequence slot.
You’re the spouse, friend, or adult child of someone important enough to give you powers as a gift. +3 Rapport, +2 Empathy, +1 Contacts
Benefactor (Rapport): You may use Rapport in place of Resources when you attempt to convince your benefactor to pay for something.
You’re pretty high up on the corporate ladder, and have powers mostly as a privilege of rank. +3 Contacts, +2 Resources, +1 Rapport
Minions (Contacts): Once per session, you can spend a fate point to create an extra called “Minions” with a physical skill (Fight, Shoot, Stealth, etc.) equal to your Contacts. This extra can undertake a single task separately from you or join you in a single scene, after which they return to whatever they were previously doing.
Voters are shallow, powers are popular. So you got yourself some. +3 Contacts, +2 Deceive, +1 Rapport
Political Connections (Contacts): Add +2 to Contacts when you reach out to government personnel.
Your job is to control the public’s impressions, both of your company and of your company’s enemies. +3 Deceive, +2 Contacts, +1 Resources
Public Relations (Deceive): Add +2 to Deceive when you manipulate public opinion with mass media.
You fight crime. And you have powers. But you’re a police officer, not a hero. +3 Investigate, +2 Notice, +1 Contacts
The Power of Deduction (Investigate): Fate Core System, page 113.
You were once a corporate scientist, until a strange laboratory accident empowered you. +3 Lore, +2 Investigate, +1 Resources
Specialist (Lore): Fate Core System, page 115.
|Mad Scientist||Independent Hero||Journalist||Priest||Lottery Winner|
|Watch Member||Taxi Driver||Vagrant||Handy-man||Crime Lord|
You have a vision for society, and you’re determined to make it real. +3 Will, +2 Lore, +1 Rapport
Indomitable (Will): Fate Core System, page 127.
You don’t just do crime: you run crime. +3 Contacts, +2 Resources, +1 Will
The Weight of Reputation (Contacts): Fate Core System, page 101.
Until the accident that empowered you, you were a plumber, an electrician, or something like that. +3 Crafts, +2 Physique, +1 Lore
Always Making Useful Things (Crafts): Fate Core System, page 103.
You’re a superhero, but your refusal to toe the corporate line has made you an outcast. +3 Athletics, +2 Will, +1 Physique
Run from the Cops (Athletics): Add +2 to Athletics when you are running away from someone chasing you.
You’re something rare in Venture City: a genuinely independent reporter. It’s hard, but powers help. +3 Investigate, +2 Rapport, +1 Lore
Journalist (Investigate): You can use Investigate instead of Lore when you attempt to write informational, entertaining, or convincing pieces.
Before getting powers, you did hard manual labor. +3 Physique, +2 Will, +1 Drive
Tireless (Physique): Add +2 to Physique when you defend against exhaustion, infection, or the effects of drugs.
You were nobody. Then you won the lottery and bought yourself some powers. +3 Resources, +2 Rapport, +1 Empathy
Trust Fund Baby (Resources): Fate Core System, page 123.
You have some...interesting ideas. They could’ve killed you, but they gave you powers instead. +3 Lore, +2 Crafts, +1 Will
I’ve Read About That! (Lore): Fate Core System, page 115.
Ever since God appeared to you and gave you powers, you’ve been preaching a rather unusual doctrine. +3 Will, +2 Lore, +1 Empathy
Preacher (Will): Use Will instead of Rapport when you give speeches or convince people to believe in your doctrine.
You used to drive a taxi. Maybe you still do. +3 Drive, +2 Empathy, +1 Rapport
I Know This Town (Drive): Add +2 to Drive when you navigate or make declarations about the area’s geography.
You use your powers to steal things. You probably stole things before you had powers. +3 Burglary, +2 Stealth, +1 Deceive
Talk the Talk (Burglary): Fate Core System, page 99.
You’re a tough guy, a legbreaker. Even without powers you’d be scary; with them you’re terrifying. +3 Provoke, +2 Physique, +1 Notice
Okay, Fine! (Provoke): Fate Core System, page 120.
You’re likable, but have no other notable skills or qualities whatsoever. It’s really strange. +3 Rapport, +2 Empathy, +1 Contacts
Blend In (Rapport): Use Rapport instead of Stealth to avoid notice when you disappear into a crowd or use other people as a distraction.
You’re a homeless drifter. Or at least you were, before the accident that gave you powers. +3 Notice, +2 Stealth, +1 Will
Danger Sense (Notice): Fate Core System, page 117.
You belong to the Neighborhood Watch, and fight to keep the city safe. +3 Contacts, +2 Investigate, +1 Notice
On the Watch (Contacts): Add +2 to Contacts when you investigate trouble in your neighborhood.
Phase Three: Superpowers
The third phase tells you what superpowers you have. Everyone rolls on the same table here. It gives you two Good skills and a superpower. See page 7 in Venture City for more on superpowers in Venture City.
+3 Fight, +3 Physique Venture City, page 14
+3 Physique, +3 Stealth Venture City, page 18
+3 Deceive, +3 Investigate Venture City, page 20
+3 Provoke, +3 Shoot Venture City, page 12
+3 Burglary, +3 Stealth Venture City, page 15
+3 Notice, +3 Physique Venture City, page 22
+3 Crafts, +3 Empathy Venture City, page 24
+3 Fight, + 3 Will
+3 Notice, +3 Will Venture City, page 26
+3 Physique, +3 Will Venture City, page 23
+3 Fight, +3 Will
+3 Athletics, +3 Fight Venture City, page 16
+3 Will, +3 Will Venture City, page 13
+3 Investigate, +3 Will Venture City, page 13
+3 Investigate, +3 Shoot
Phase Four: Trouble
The fourth phase tells you what your problems are. Everyone rolls on the same table, but corporate characters set one die to + and non-corporate ones set one die to - before rolling. The table gives a stunt and a Fair (+2) skill.
|Image Mismatch||Moral Qualms||Corporate Politics||Genetic Killswitch|
|Wanted Criminal||Hero Complex||Dark Secret||Something to Protect||War on the Corps|
|Debilitating Injury||Horrible Temper||Widely Hated||Drug Addiction||Supervillain|
You’re tied up in corporate politics. Unpleasant but unavoidable, if you want to wield real power. +2 Contacts
Corporate Connections (Contacts): Add +2 to Contacts when you attempt to contact members of your company.
There’s some secret that would destroy you if it were made public. +2 Deceive
Keeping Secrets (Deceive):Add +2 to Deceive when you are defending against interrogation or torture.
You got hurt bad, and it weakens you to this day. +2 Will
No Pain, No Gain (Physique): You have an additional mild physical consequence slot.
You’re addicted to something. Maybe the superdrug, maybe just a regular drug. +2 Will
Numb to Pain (Will): The first physical consequence you take in a scene does not generate a free invoke for your opposition.
You’ve been fitted with a genetic killswitch. Your bosses could give you cancer with a button-press. +2 Rapport
Sucking Up (Rapport): Add +2 to Rapport when dealing with your superiors.
You’re self-destructively heroic. +2 Will
Self-Sacrificing (Will): When acting in a heroic and noble way, you may fill your lowest consequence slot to invoke an aspect without spending a fate point. Powers can’t help recover consequences taken this way.
Sometimes you just lose it. +2 Provoke
Berserk (Fight): Once per conflict, you can create a Berserk! aspect with two free invokes. You cannot refuse the first compel on this aspect, but you can overcome the aspect with a Great (+4) Will roll before the conflict ends.
The image your company has given you doesn’t really resemble the actual you. +2 Deceive
Faking It (Deceive): Add +2 to Deceive when you attempt to uphold your image by lying to someone about your actions.
You have serious moral reservations over your company’s actions. But you’re not sure what you can do. +2 Empathy
Moral Principles (Will): Add +2 to Will when you defend against attempts to make you behave immorally.
Something to Protect
There are people relying on you for protection. +2 Contacts
The Rewards of Heroism (Contacts): Once per scene, you may spend a fate point to receive unexpected help from someone who owes you a debt or who respects you for your good works.
You’re actually a supervillain. You commit real crimes in a bizarrely flamboyant way. Why? +2 Provoke
Famous (Provoke): Add +2 to Provoke when you create an advantage related to your fearsome reputation.
You live in hiding, because you’re wanted by the police. And they’re serious about it. +2 Stealth
Criminal Ties (Contacts): Add +2 to Contacts when seeking criminal connections.
War on the Corps
You’re a communist or anarchist or something like that, and you’re aiming to bring down the whole system of the world. Good luck! +2 Lore
Fight the Power (Provoke): Add +2 to Provoke when you try to rile people up against the powers that be.
The public despises you and wants you dead. Maybe you deserve it, maybe not. +2 Provoke
Easy to Hate (Provoke): Add +2 to Provoke when you try to make someone angry with you.
Powers: You can create an anti-power field, adding +4 to the opposition whenever anyone in your zone uses a power. If there’s no opposition, the user must make a Great (+4) Will roll to use their power. When you touch someone, you can shut down their powers completely until the end of your next turn. This requires a Fight attack if they’re resisting. In addition, you can tell if someone’s powered and roughly what their powers are.
Special Effects: Inflict a Condition, Forced Movement
Collateral Damage Effect: You cause a helpless person’s powers to go wildly out of control for a moment and then disappear for a week.
Cost: 3 stunts
Breakdown: Basic Power Nullification, Master Power Nullification, and Full Nullification
Powers: You can transform into any sort of creature, rolling with Will to create a Creature Form advantage. The difficulty is generally Mediocre (+0) but may be higher for huge, tiny, or complicated forms. When you do so, select a skill and add +2 to that skill for as long as you remain transformed. You can also grow wings to fly with Athletics, sprout blades for a +2 bonus to “unarmed” Fight attacks, and harden your skin to gain Armor:2.
Special Effects: Area Attack, Physical Recovery
Drawback: Really Creepy
Collateral Damage Effect: You cause a part of your body to split off and become a monster. Unfortunately, you have very little control over creatures created this way.
Cost: 6 stunts
Breakdown: Basic Shape-Shifting, Master Shape-Shifting, Skill-Shifting, Basic Flight, Basic Natural Weapon, Basic Super Toughness, Corruption Power Theme
Powers: By bathing everything you look at in x-rays, you can see through objects. This lets you see in perfect darkness and ignore physical obstacles when using Notice or Investigate. You get +2 to Investigate when using your vision. You may use Shoot to attack targets within three zones with a concentrated x-ray beam.
Special Effects: Area Attack, Inflict a Condition
Drawback: Gives People Cancer
Collateral Damage Effect: If you’re willing to do some damage, you can release a huge burst of x-rays that will permanently damage the health of everyone nearby.
Cost: 3 stunts
Breakdown: Basic Super Senses, Basic Energy Blast, new Super Senses Enhancement to see through objects
Full Example: Taylor Williams
Let’s put those rules into action. We’ll call our sample character Taylor Williams.
First Roll: -++-
The Upbringing table says Taylor had a Rural Upbringing and gets +2 Crafts, +1 Physique, +1 Drive, and +1 Athletics.
Since we rolled an equal number of + and -, we can choose which table to roll on for the second roll. Let’s go with the Corporate table.
Second Roll: +0++
The Corporate table says Taylor is a Corporate Spy. She gets +3 Stealth, +2 Deceive, +1 Burglary, and a stunt letting her spend a fate point to receive information from her corporate masters.
Third Roll: +-+0
The Superpowers table says Taylor is a Speedster and gets +3 Fight and +3 Athletics. She already has +1 Athletics, but the skills don’t stack. She’ll pick which one she wants in the cleanup phase.
Fourth Roll: Automatic + and Random +0+
The Trouble table says Taylor is mixed up in Corporate Politics. She gets +2 Contacts and a stunt adding +2 to her Contacts rolls within the company.
So now we’ve got to weave all this together into a character. Let’s say Taylor grew up unsatisfied in a small town with no prospects. She practically sold herself to Mitsuhama just to get away from her boring hometown. They erased her identity, gave her powers, and trained her as a covert operative.
That was years ago, and now Taylor is one of Mitsuhama’s top agents. She still looks and acts like a small-town girl, but underneath that facade she’s one of the deadliest people around and a major player within the company. Let’s change Rural Upbringing to Not Just a Hick, and Corporate Spy to Erased Identity. We’ll pick Adrenaline Junkie as her power aspect. Her trouble works just fine as Corporate Politics, so we’ll leave that alone.
Her skill pyramid looks like this:
- Good (+3): Athletics, Fight, Stealth
- Fair (+2): Contacts, Crafts, Deceive
- Average (+1): Athletics, Burglary, Drive, Physique
She has Athletics twice. We erase her Average Athletics and give her +1 Will to replace it. To emphasize her deadliness, we’ll pick Fight as her apex skill.
For Taylor’s high concept, Top Mitsuhama Agent seems fitting.
High Concept: Top Mitsuhama Agent
Trouble: Corporate Politics
Other: Not Just a Hick • Erased Identity • Adrenaline Junkie
Great (+4) Fight
Good (+3) Athletics, Stealth
Fair (+2) Contacts, Crafts, Deceive
Average(+1) Burglary, Drive, Physique, Will
Corporate Connections: Taylor adds +2 to Contacts when she attempts to contact members of Mitsuhama. (page XX)
Corporate Backing: Once per scene, Taylor may spend a fate point to ask her corporate masters three questions. They will respond with the best information they have on hand.