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Fate Codex

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.

The System

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
Negator Telepathy Telekensis Regeneration Doppelganger
Shapeshifting Brick Speedster X-Ray Vision Flamer
Chameleon Ghost Metalhead Insect Oracle

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.

Adding Aspects

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.

Adding Skills

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.

Other Details

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.

  1. Raise one of your Good (+3) skills to Great (+4).
  2. 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.
  3. Buy stunts (if you have slots available).
  4. Decide on a high concept for your character and fiddle with your other aspects until you’re satisfied with them.
  5. 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.

Upbringing
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.

Academic Child

You were a bright child, and you were educated well. +2 Lore, +1 Crafts, +1 Investigate, +1 Resources

Anarchist Family

Your parents were genuinely anti-corporate, and raised you accordingly. +2 Lore, +1 Contacts, +1 Empathy, +1 Will

Athletic Child

You displayed real athletic potential as a child, and once aimed at professional sports. +2 Athletics, +1 Physique, +1 Stealth, +1 Will

Criminal Child

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

Corporate Heir

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

Homeless

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

Mafia Family

Your parents were criminals. The kind that belong to a very scary organization. +2 Contacts, +1 Provoke, +1 Resources, +1 Will

Professional Family

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

Recent Immigrant

You grew up a long way from Venture City. +2 Empathy, +1 Notice, +1 Rapport, +1 Will

Rural Family

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

Self-Made Success

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

Underclass

Your parents were like wageslaves, but without the security or the comfort. +2 Physique, +1 Athletics, +1 Crafts, +1 Will

Wageslave Family

You were raised by corporate drones. It was weirdly normal. +2 Drive, +1 Contacts, +1 Empathy, +1 Resources

Wash-Out

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.

Corporate
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

A-List Hero

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.

Anti-Hero

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.

B-List Hero

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.

Bought Powers

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.

Corporate Security

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.

Corporate Spy

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.

Doctor

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.

Excellent Worker

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.

Experiment

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.

Lucky Nobody

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.

Manager

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.

Politician

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.

PR Specialist

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.

Private Police

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.

Researcher

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.

Corporate
Mad Scientist Independent Hero Journalist Priest Lottery Winner
Thief Totally Average Activist Laborer Thug
Watch Member Taxi Driver Vagrant Handy-man Crime Lord

Activist

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.

Crime Lord

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.

Handyman

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.

Independent Hero

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.

Journalist

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.

Laborer

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.

Lottery Winner

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.

Mad Scientist

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.

Priest

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.

Taxi Driver

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.

Thief

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.

Thug

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.

Totally Average

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.

Vagrant

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.

Watch Member

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.

Superpowers
Negator Telepathy Telekensis Regeneration Doppelganger
Shapeshifting Brick Speedster X-Ray Vision Flamer
Chameleon Ghost Metalhead Insect Oracle

Brick

+3 Fight, +3 Physique Venture City, page 14

Chameleon

+3 Physique, +3 Stealth Venture City, page 18

Doppelganger

+3 Deceive, +3 Investigate Venture City, page 20

Flamer

+3 Provoke, +3 Shoot Venture City, page 12

Ghost

+3 Burglary, +3 Stealth Venture City, page 15

Insect

+3 Notice, +3 Physique Venture City, page 22

Metalhead

+3 Crafts, +3 Empathy Venture City, page 24

Negator

+3 Fight, + 3 Will

Oracle

+3 Notice, +3 Will Venture City, page 26

Regeneration

+3 Physique, +3 Will Venture City, page 23

Shapeshifting

+3 Fight, +3 Will

Speedster

+3 Athletics, +3 Fight Venture City, page 16

Telekinesis

+3 Will, +3 Will Venture City, page 13

Telepathy

+3 Investigate, +3 Will Venture City, page 13

X-Ray Vision

+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.

Trouble
  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

Corporate Politics

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.

Dark Secret

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.

Debilitating Injury

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.

Drug Addiction

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.

Genetic Killswitch

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.

Hero Complex

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.

Horrible Temper

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.

Image Mismatch

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.

Moral Qualms

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.

Supervillain

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.

Wanted Criminal

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.

Widely Hated

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.

New powers

Negator

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

Drawback: Exhausting

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

Shapeshifting

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

X-Ray Vision

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.

Cleanup

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.

Taylor Williams

High Concept: Top Mitsuhama Agent

Trouble: Corporate Politics

Other: Not Just a HickErased IdentityAdrenaline Junkie

Skills

Great (+4) Fight

Good (+3) Athletics, Stealth

Fair (+2) Contacts, Crafts, Deceive

Average(+1) Burglary, Drive, Physique, Will

Stunts

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.

Notes

Speedster

Refresh: 2