Voyages: A Skill Set for Getting There
by Tara Zuber
“It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end.”
—Ursula K. LeGuin
Everyone has their travel story. Strangers meet and separate along the road. Itineraries fall to pieces. Destinations change. Odysseus and Dorothy Gale just wanted to get home and Frodo just wanted to throw the One Ring away, but the path from A to B is rarely a straight line. Others surge across the land, over the seas, and through the air without a set destination. Tintin hunted for adventure, the Bride for revenge, Amalthea for unicorns, and Don Quixote for his impossible dream. Some, like Carmen Sandiego, cross continents and time for grand heists, while others, like Phileas Fogg, race around the world just to settle a bet.
This adaptation of the default Fate Core skill list focuses on how players get from place to place and all the stories they collect along the way.
The Skill List
New skills are bolded and italicized.
Athletics, Construction, Culture, Deceive, Empathy, Fight, Investigate, Mechanics, Medicine, Navigate, Notice, Pilot, Rapport, Resources, Shoot, Stealth, Wilderness, and Will
Those familiar with Fate Core may have noticed that Burglary, Contacts, Crafts, Drive, Lore, Physique, and Provoke are missing. Characters can still do these things—they’ll just call on different skills to do so.
Crafts has been divided between Construction and Mechanics to allow for the varying expertise people with differing amounts and kinds of travel experience would have. Construction builds, while Mechanics make things go. Construction can build a boat or the body of a vehicle, but doesn’t include the knowledge to make it work. Likewise, Mechanics can build an engine, but not the vehicle to house it. Characters may have skill in both, but with differing specialties based on their background and interests.
Drive has been expanded into Pilot, which addresses all manner of vehicles that move over land, on water, or through air.
Culture and Fight handle Provoke rolls. With Culture you draw on your cultural knowledge to push the right buttons to influence locals. With Fight you can incite violence.
Physique has been merged into Athletics. Use aspects, stunts, and roleplaying to suggest specific characteristics, such as strength, speed, or grace.
Contacts are now part of Resources. Consider adding an aspect to claim additional people resources in areas familiar to the character. You might also consider a contacts-related stunt using Resources.
Burglary rolls can be done with Stealth or Deceive. For overcoming a locked door, consider using Mechanics to pick the lock or Construction to remove the hinges.
Finally, this skill list assumes that ranks in a skill imply knowledge. Therefore, Lore rolls should be handled by the most closely related skill. For analyzing a bullet, try Shoot. For questions of physics, try Mechanics. Discuss with your GM which skill is most applicable.
In Fate Core, skill in Physique can provide additional stress boxes. While you can opt to keep stress tied to a physical skill and use Athletics to determine the stress boxes, the added skills provide other options.
If you prefer to focus on physical stress as injuries, you may use Medicine to add stress boxes as the characters can automatically and immediately address their wounds.
Another possibility is combining the mental and physical stress tracks into one. In this case, rather than representing injuries, stress is the general disorientation and frustration associated with travel. In this case, you would use Culture to add additional stress boxes, since Culture is your ability to adapt to a new situation.
See page 118 of Fate Core System for how these added boxes work.
Skills are used to overcome, create an advantage, attack, or defend. Only the relevant actions for each skill are listed below.
Construction is the skill of building objects with any material. Characters skilled in Construction are the builders, architects, and designers.
Overcome: Construction is a more limited version of the default Crafts skill and allows you to build, break, or fix objects, provided you have tools and time.
Create an Advantage: With Construction you can point out aspects of an object, both positive and negative. You can also use Construction to make or sabotage objects on the fly or to strengthen defenses.
Bearing Gifts. Create a present for someone you’re trying to influence. Use an aspect to describe how the person feels toward you afterward (e.g., Thankful).
Prison Break. Whenever you’re being detained, spend a fate point and escape.
Culture is the adaptability that makes travel easy and interesting for you. With Culture, you not only know the right clothes and local secrets, you also know how to blend in and how best to insult, shock, scare, or compliment the locals. Culture isn’t how you affect others, but rather how you fit into what people expect or how you demonstrate respect by a show of fitting in.
Overcome: Use Culture to adjust to a new place and society and to overcome culture shock and other hazards of travel. With Culture, you can blend in as a social chameleon, estimate the layout of a place, and provoke or influence locals.
Create an Advantage: Use Culture to give yourself temporary aspects that influence how others see and react to you (e.g., Convincingly Authoritative, Using the Right Gestures). You may also use your cultural knowledge to build a better Rapport with or to Deceive people.
Polyglot. You’ve picked up bits and pieces of languages from all over. Add +2 to Culture rolls involving language.
You Honor Us. Gain +2 to a Culture roll after respecting a local custom. After using this skill, you must again demonstrate your respect to reuse it.
Mechanics is the knowledge of machines and making things go. Mechanics can build and repair engines, design traps or locks, and understand the interaction of different physical forces. It’s the skill of engineers and physicists.
Overcome: Mechanics allows you to build, break, or fix machines and engines, provided you have tools and time. You can also pick locks.
Create an Advantage: Mechanics allows you to notice the strengths and weaknesses of a system. You can point out these aspects to your advantage. You can also fix or sabotage a machine under pressure.
Above and Beyond. Once per session, add an extra aspect with one free invoke to a machine you’re repairing.
Trap Master. Your traps require three Good rolls against passive opposition. You can spend up to three fate points increasing each requirement from Good to Great.
Medicine lets you dress wounds and diagnose problems.
Overcome: Medicine is used to overcome physical stress and consequences in yourself and others.
Create an Advantage: Medicine can also be used to set physical weaknesses on your opponents, creating aspects to exploit in a fight.
Defend: Medicine can defend against poisons.
Cornered. In close quarters, use Medicine—and supplies from your medical kit—instead of Fight to injure an opponent who attacked you on their previous turn.
Trust Me, I’m a Doctor. If the people you’re interacting with are aware of your medical skills, add +2 to Rapport.
Navigate handles map-reading, backtracking, following directions, finding North, and being able to translate distances into the time, fuel, and supplies needed to traverse them.
Overcome: Use Navigate if your character is lost. They can retrace their steps, determine North, or navigate by stars or landmarks.
Create an Advantage: With Navigate, you map your course and can learn about or set aspects along the way. You can also take time to map out a new settlement.
Always Prepared. You studied the route and anticipated necessary supplies. Once per journey between two settlements, set an aspect with a free invoke that demonstrates this preparation.
Back and Safe. Once per session, spend a fate point to safely and without interruptions return to wherever you’re staying or have recently slept.
The Pilot skill gets you from point A to B in every way except walking. It is flying airplanes, spaceships, and zeppelins, driving cars and trains, sailing and rowing boats, and riding bicycles and horses. If it moves, you can operate it.
Overcome: Pilot is used to maneuver through or over a space. The skill allows characters to get through poor conditions (e.g., storms, tight spaces, rough seas) and to show off. It can also be used for contests.
Attack: Pilot is not typically used for attacking. You can, however, use your vehicle as a weapon by crashing or ramming into another object to cause stress. You incur as much stress as you cause and must complete a second roll to determine whether your vehicle remains viable. Your second roll must be equal to or greater than the stress you caused to remain usable.
Defend: You can defend against attacks from similar vehicles to whatever one you are piloting by dodging, weaving, and making other clever movements.
Experience Counts. Roll Pilot instead of Mechanics or Construction to fix a vehicle your character is familiar with.
This Is My Domain. Choose Air, Water, or Land and add +2 to all Pilot rolls that involve a vehicle operating in that space.
The Wilderness skill is the basic know-how for getting by. You can forage for food, distinguish between safe and poisonous foods, follow tracks, start a fire, and create basic tools like fishing lures and nets. Wilderness intersects with several other skills, but is entirely concerned with how you survive the great outdoors. While Wilderness doesn’t include “street smarts,” it is also useful within cities as many of its uses—such as finding or creating shelter, starting fires, and locating food—would also help for surviving city streets.
Overcome: Wilderness helps you overcome challenges posed by the environment. You can find food and water and notice dangers posed by poisonous plants or certain sounds.
Create an Advantage: You create advantages by declaring helpful aspects on the environment, such as an Animal Path leading to fresh water, and by adapting the world around you, such as by creating a Shelter. You can also develop tools, such as creating a Net for easier fishing.
Water Baby. You know everything there is to know about living in and around the water. +2 to Wilderness when you’re in the same zone as a body of water.
Animal Family. Growing up, you spent a lot of time around animals. Choose a species to declare your animal family. When you encounter a member of that species, you can communicate and request favors using Wilderness. +