Fate Space Toolkit
You’ll want to customize the skill list from Fate Core to highlight how characters in your setting handle the challenges they face. You can do this by changing some of the skills from Fate Core, creating new skills that show how characters in your setting can take action, or both. The skill list defines what characters will do, and new skills can help define the flavor of the setting. For example, if there is a skill called “Astronaut,” this implies a certain right-stuff way of piloting a spacecraft, while “Star Pilot” implies something different again.
A Skill By Any Other Name
Throughout the rest of the book, all references to specific skills also refer to the equivalent, setting-specific skill variants and names. For example, a stunt that refers to Shoot also refers to Firearms, as long as the stunt would reasonably apply to using Firearms.
Modify the Default Skills
Adapt the skill list from Fate Core to reflect your specific SF setting. We give some options in this section, but it’s not an exhaustive list. We also give a few example stunts.
Option One: Rename Crafts to Engineering or Technology. This skill is used to operate, repair, design, and otherwise deal with technology of all kinds. Its stunts typically represent expertise in specific technical areas, or heavy machinery, robots, and high-tech toolkits.
- Bioengineering: Because you are a trained bioengineer, you may use Engineering or Technology in place of Lore to create advantages representing biomechanical modifications or cybernetic augmentations, or to overcome obstacles related to medical conditions or treatment.
- Life-Support Engineering: Because you are a trained life-support engineer, you gain +2 when using Engineering or Technology to overcome obstacles related to maintaining, repairing, or replacing life-support technology.
- Xenotech: Because you are familiar with the principles of alien technology, you gain +2 when using Engineering or Technology to overcome obstacles related to understanding or adapting alien technology.
Option Two: Rename Crafts to Technoscience. This skill includes authoritative knowledge of natural phenomena as predicted, controlled, and explained via technical means, and so it subsumes the relevant part of Lore, which may be renamed “Culture” or something similar to reflect its more limited character.
- Theoretician: Because of your training and intellect, you gain +2 when using Technoscience to create advantages that refer to interesting or useful empirical implications of abstract scientific models. For example, a character might use a Technoscience success to note that if the artificial gravity fields in the ship’s deck plates can be manipulated with sufficient precision, and thus Focused Gravitational Lensing would permit Localized Invisibility Fields. The latter advantage could then justify the use of Technoscience to create invisibility fields aboard the ship controlled from the life-support workstation; Focused Gravitational Lensing might also lead to other specific innovations, like tractor beams and pressor arrays.
Option Three: Divide Crafts into Operate, Repair, and Design. Operate is limited to using technological devices not covered by another skill. Repair includes troubleshooting and fixing problems as they emerge. Design allows for modifying devices and creating new ones. Each skill is independent and discrete, so Repair doesn’t let you also Operate. Alternately, you can allow a more knowledge-intensive skill to be used in place of a less-intensive one, albeit against higher opposition, or vice versa, substituting the less-intensive skill for the more-intensive one. In general, Operate is the least knowledge-intensive while Design is the most knowledge-intensive.
- Miracle Worker: Because you work well under pressure, you gain +2 when using Repair to treat consequences taken by a spaceship or other vehicle.
If the generally available technology level varies from place to place in your setting, you might want to supplement option three by adding tech levels. For example, a galactic setting where each world has a distinct culture might classify planets according their relative levels of technological achievement.
Option 1: Split Drive into Ride, Drive, and Pilot. Ride is the skill for using mounts, while Drive is for operating vehicles with relatively simple controls, and Pilot is for operating complex vehicles, like spacecraft and starships. Alternately, you can forgo Ride and instead include horse riding and the like in Athletics or Planetary Survival.
Option 2: Replace Drive with Operate. Operate covers the use of all technological devices. Stunts can be used to reflect expertise with specific vehicles.
- Hot Pilot: Because you are a skilled spacepilot, you gain +2 to overcome with Operate when piloting a space fighter or other small spacecraft.
- Space Ace: Because you are steely-nerved combat pilot, you may attack with Operate when you are piloting a space fighter or other small, armed spacecraft.
- Seat-of-the-Pants Navigator: Because you have an uncanny knack for space navigation, you may use Pilot in place of the equivalent navigation skill (e.g., Astrogation, Science) to set a course from point A to point B in normal space.
Option 1: Rename Knowledge. Knowledge sounds more appropriate for a science fiction game than Lore, which has a fantasy feel. You can double down on this to better describe your setting, calling it Education, Data Access, Information, or Memory instead—each name has different implications, especially for interacting with information technology and computer data.
- Data Analyst: Because you are skilled at data analysis, you gain +2 to create advantages with Knowledge when you can consult accumulated data records about the object of your analysis.
- Boolean Ace: Because you are expert at searching through large databases, you may use Knowledge in place of Investigate when you have access to data records about the target of your investigation.
Option 2: Split Lore into Culture and Science. The former skill represents social and cultural knowledge, including the arts and humanities as well as common-sense knowledge of a given culture. The latter skills represent systematic knowledge of the social and natural worlds, respectively.
- Synesthete: Because you are a synesthetic poet, you may use Culture in place of Provoke when you perform one of your multi-sensory compositions for a receptive or captive audience.
- Experimentalist: Because you are trained in scientific experimentation, you gain +2 to create advantages with Science by testing an empirical hypothesis about some physical phenomenon.
Option 3: Split Lore into multiple discipline-based sub-skills. Broad fields of inquiry are presumed to represent bodies of knowledge and ways of knowing related to science, the arts and humanities, and other fields. Stunts can represent specialized training or education and professional recognition and achievement, like a physician’s license.
- Arts: Subsumes that part of Lore related to cultural expression. Its stunts are often related to specific art forms like Painting, Sculpture, and Literature, giving +2 to creating advantages with that art form.
- Humanities: Subsumes that part of Lore related to knowledge of specific human events, ideas, and creations. Its stunts are often related to specific disciplines like History, Philosophy, and Law, giving +2 to creating advantages with that discipline.
- Social Science: Subsumes that part of Lore related to systematic knowledge of human behavior, interactions, and motivations. Its stunts are often related to specific social sciences like Anthropology, Sociology, and Psychology, giving +2 to creating advantages with that science.
- Natural Science: Subsumes that part of Lore related to systematic knowledge of material phenomena. Its stunts are often related to specific natural sciences like Physics, Chemistry, and Planetology, giving +2 to creating advantages with that science. A scientist’s skill to make new scientific discoveries or theoretical breakthroughs may require a stunt (Experimentalist or Theoretician, for example) unless the setting embraces the notion of rapid scientific advancement.
Option 1. Rename Shoot to Weapons or Warfare. This reflects some degree of familiarity with all of the weapons and weapons systems, large and small, used to launch beams, projectiles, and other deadly payloads at targets. Stunts can reflect expertise with particular types of combat, like Space Combat, Small-Unit Tactics, or Armored Warfare.
Option 2. Divide Shoot into categories of weapons. Different types of weapons may require different skill sets to operate, such as Firearms (for handguns and other small arms) and Gunnery (for space naval heavy weaponry). Use stunts to represent expertise with particular classes of weapon.
- Deadeye Aim: Because you are uncannily accurate with space weapons, once per scene you can gain +4, rather than +2, to your Gunnery attack when you invoke an advantage you’ve created related to taking aim or getting a target in your sights.
- Final Protective Fire: Because you are a trained point-defense gunner, you may spend a fate point to attack multiple defenders during a single exchange with Gunnery. Before you roll, declare all of your defenders and the order in which you will attack them. For each defender after the first you declare, you suffer -1 to each of your attacks. Roll and resolve each attack in order; a given invocation applies only to one attack, not all of them.
- Sniper: Gain +2 to attack with Firearms when you’re firing a personal firearm at a defender that is two or more zones away.
Option 3. Keep Shoot for Small Arms Only. Alternately, presume that Shoot refers to hand weapons only, and assign space weapons to other skills such as Drive (Pilot) or Crafts (Engineering).
Create New Skills
Use new skills to highlight important activities in your setting. Some skills may only be available as extras, depending on the setting.
Knowledge of the technical procedures and professional practices needed to calculate a vessel’s space journey. Use this skill to plot courses through interplanetary and interstellar space as well as to jump through hyperspace or another FTL jaunt—assuming that FTL travel doesn’t require some other skill such as Psionics for navigation. If there is no special skill for navigation in space, the requisite knowledge can be included in a Lore-equivalent skill such as Science or Natural Science. Astrogation is often used in an overcome action to set a course in space, but it may also be treated as including those parts of Lore or its equivalent related to general knowledge of port conditions, nearby space hazards, and similar information about known ports of call. It is generally used neither to attack nor to defend.
The difficulty of course calculation depends on the complexity of the course and the capabilities of the ship. Planning a straightforward trip from Planet A to Planet B across distances within the ship’s normal range and endurance may face Mediocre (+0) or Average (+1) difficulty, while trying to calculate the complicated series of burns needed to decelerate a slower-than-light generation ship coming in from interstellar space with limited delta-vee (change in velocity) by means of multiple planetary fly-bys that may subject the ship to structural stress may face Great (+4), Superb (+5), or even Fantastic (+6) difficulty.
The GM will set the time required for the journey based on the distances involved and the speeds obtainable, remembering that periods of acceleration, deceleration, and possibly coasting will occur. Express the time required in “half,” “one,” “a few,” or “several” units of time, per Fate Core (page 197). Attainable speeds will depend in large measure upon the technology available in your setting, discussed in greater detail in Spacecraft and Space Travel.
Succeeding with style on Astrogation may create boosts such as Fuel-Efficient Course or Planetary Syzygy that can be used as a bonus if Pilot is needed to complete the maneuver. Alternatively, succeeding with style can simply reduce the time required for travel by one shift, meaning a trip that would take a few months will only take one.
Failure can result in “no solution”—the ship lacks the requisite delta-vee to get to its destination. Conditions must change before any recalculation is possible. Alternately, failure can mean that the course plot is inaccurate, requiring additional expenditures of reaction mass or other resources to correct, or that the ship is subjected to structural stress or other damage, or that the time required to travel increases by one shift, or perhaps two shifts of time if you get three or more shifts of failure.
- Starblazer: Because of your attention to detail, you gain +2 to Astrogation when you are plotting a course to a place where no one has gone before—or at least, no one of whom you’re aware.
- Stargazer: Because you’ve pored over the available star charts and sky maps, you gain +2 to Astrogation when creating advantages related to knowing astrographic information about the region of space into which you are traveling.
This is knowledge of the workings of large, impersonal, hierarchical institutions such as government agencies, corporations, and the military. It is used to overcome obstacles and create advantages related to knowing the rules, policies, and protocols of the organization, dealing with red tape, and winning at office politics. A more neutral label for this skill is “Administration,” which also implies a certain level of managerial competence. This skill is useful when trying to convince starport officials that an out-of-date docking license still passes muster, that a cargo of exotic animals doesn’t fall under extant quarantine regulations, and so forth.
- Barrack-Room Lawyer: Because of your vast knowledge of administrative trivia, you may use Bureaucracy in place of Rapport to attack or create advantages when the act of throwing out legalistic or official-sounding terms and concepts might be convincing.
- Red Tape-Cutter: Because you have a good idea about which shortcuts an organization is likely to tolerate, you gain +2 to overcome obstacles with Bureaucracy when attempting to demonstrate that you have met an organization’s requirements or followed its stipulated procedures.
This is the skill for directing, inspiring, and leading people. You can use it to overcome obstacles and create advantages related to coordinating the activities of groups and individuals, keeping up morale, and ensuring good order among the troops. It subsumes the relevant parts of Rapport and Provoke.
- Charisma: Because you are an inspirational leader, you gain +2 to create advantages with Command when you try to maintain or improve the morale of your followers.
- Martinet: Because you have a reputation as a strict disciplinarian, you gain +2 to overcome with Command when you are trying to enforce compliance with behavioral rules and regulations among the people you’re leading.
If aliens are relatively infrequent or very strange in your setting, you’ll use Encounter—rather than Deceive, Provoke, or Rapport—to interact with them. It is used to overcome or create advantages. If a listed skill doesn’t exist, the appropriate interaction is used instead. In any case, certain aliens may get a bonus to Will or Empathy to reflect the difficulty other species have in engaging them, though this bonus will probably be more common if you do not include Encounter.
- Alien Whisperer: Because you have an intuitive or learned understanding of alien psychology, you may use Encounter in place of Empathy when trying to make sense of alien motivations or desires.
- Practically Raised by Martians: Because of your familiarity with their culture and traditions, you gain +2 to Encounter when dealing with Martians. (You can rename this stunt to apply it to another specific alien civilization.)
Planetary Survival replaces that part of Lore related to practical knowledge of “roughing it” in uncivilized conditions. It may also include that part of Lore used to administer first aid; in this case, more advanced medical training is a stunt that permits the use of Science in place of Planetary Survival for that purpose. Its stunts may also be used to enhance survival skill on a specific planet or a particular type of planet—which means that how planets are classified, or what types of planets exist in your setting, is important in creating such stunts.
- Absolute Zero: Because of your experience on such worlds, you gain +2 to Planetary Survival when overcoming hazardous groundside conditions on frozen worlds, like those in the outer reaches of a solar system.
- Habitable World Training: Pick a certain class of habitable world present in the setting, such as one on the Habitable Worlds table. Because of your experience on such worlds, you gain +2 to overcome obstacles related to hazardous groundside conditions on such a world.
- Dirtside Medic: Because of your practical experience, you gain +2 to Planetary Survival when treating mild and moderate physical consequences suffered by others as a result of exposure to planetary conditions.
Psionics allows you to use the power of your mind to affect the real world. It is typically only used to create advantages related to using your psychic powers to affect the world around you. Here are some examples of using Psionics:
“I use my psionics to cloud the guard’s mind.” This will create Clouded Mind by succeeding with Psionics against the guard’s Will.
“I probe the alien’s brain and evoke its deepest fear.” This will create Tentacular Terror! by succeeding with Psionics against the alien’s Will.
“I telekinetically pull at the wires inside the guard’s EVA suit.” This will create Compromised Suit by succeeding with Psionics against the guard’s Notice.
Stunts can expand the range and versatility of the Psionics skill.
- Psionic Navigation: Because of your psychic training, you may use Psionics in place of Astrogation to calculate interstellar paths through hyperspace.
- Psychic Blast: Because of your psychic training, you may attack with Psionics against the defender’s Will or Psionics.
- Telekinetic Force: Because of your psychic training, you may use Psionics in place of Physique to lift, throw, hurl, or crush nearby objects as if you had enormous strength.
Rank reflects a character’s status and position within a hierarchical organization and thus indicates their efficacy in utilizing their official powers, working as a sort of combination of Resources and Contacts when dealing with that organization. A character’s Rank rating might not correspond to their in-fiction rank. For example, a star admiral with Mediocre (+0) Rank still outranks a space sergeant with Fair (+2) Rank in the fiction, but the space sergeant would be better at getting the detachment ready for inspection or obtaining a much-needed hyperthermal coupler at stardock during refitting.
- Rank Hath Its Privileges: You may use Rank in place of Resources to create advantages related to obtaining personal wealth or goods for your private use from your organization.
- Highly Decorated: You may use Rank in place of Rapport to create advantages related to using your words to inspire, motivate, or otherwise lift up members of your organization.
Spacehand subsumes those parts of Lore and Crafts associated with practical knowledge of shipboard life. It is typically used to overcome and defend against difficulties connected to living, working, and moving in space. This includes moving around in zero-g, wearing a spacesuit properly so as to avoid accident or injury while in vacuum, walking on the outside of a spacecraft hull, and so on. You’ll use this skill whenever something out of the ordinary happens in a space environment. Need to don your spacesuit in record time? Roll Spacehand. Need to patch a micro-meteor leak? Roll Spacehand. In a near-future setting, this skill can be called Astronaut—or Cosmonaut.
- Old Space Dog: Because you’ve been around a time or two, you may use Spacehand in place of Contacts when looking for a spacer in a starport or other likely meeting place for professional space travelers.
- Spacewalker: Because you are well trained in extra-vehicular activity, you gain +2 to Spacehand when overcoming obstacles related to operations outside a spacecraft.
- Zero-Gee Acrobatics: Because you are skilled at low-gravity movement, you may use Spacehand in place of Athletics to move in microgravity, as long as there are surfaces that you can push against.
- Zero-Gee Martial Arts: Because you are familiar with fighting in zero-gee, you may use Spacehand in place of Fight to attack in hand-to-hand combat while in microgravity.