Fate System Toolkit
Other Skill Functions
Skills already let you do a wide range of things, but they can be even more flexible than they initially appear. If you take a look at the skill list, you can see that every single skill has the overcome and create an advantage actions checked. This opens a lot of possibilities, even for skills that don’t seem to have a lot of interesting uses.
If a character has a high rank in a skill, Good (+3) or higher, this means that they are an expert in that particular area of endeavor. They possess deep knowledge within the narrow range covered by the skill. This knowledge covers the tools and trappings used by the skill and knowledge of other people who use the skill at the same high level.
The three attack skills—Fight, Shoot, and Provoke—are most often used in combat. That doesn’t mean combat is the only situation where these skills are useful. A character with the Shoot skill can identify ranged weapons, knows details about their care and maintenance, and knows where to obtain them. The same goes for Fight, regarding hand-to-hand weapons.
This opens up lots of possibilities for overcome or create an advantage actions. A Shoot expert could use their skill in an overcome action to find a gun seller in a new place, for example. Shoot could be used to create an advantage by identifying the type of gun by the sound of its shot and filling in details on the limitations of the model, or by noticing that an enemy’s weapon has not been properly cared for and could possibly malfunction.
Provoke might seem to be a harder skill to expand, but with Provoke, an expert could create an advantage to discover an opponent is bluffing, or to identify which person in a group of opponents is the biggest threat.
You can use other skills in a similar way. Burglary experts can find tools or other practitioners of the trade, or even identify the trademark techniques of other burglars they know by the traces they leave behind. Drive experts can identify vehicles and use create an advantage to talk about the subtle edges or disadvantages a particular make has when compared against another vehicle.
Skills that normally do not allow you to attack or defend—Burglary, Crafts, Investigate, Lore, and Resources—have lots of options for additional actions, and in the right circumstances might be used to attack or defend. In the right situation, Crafts could be used to create an attack through the construction of a dangerous trap, for instance. Burglary could be used for defense, if a character sets up countermeasures based on their detailed knowledge of security precautions. These should be very specific and very limited applications, but it can be quite rewarding to allow players to use these skills in a way that stretches their capabilities a bit.
Creativity is the order of the day. In almost any skill, a high level of ability opens up many possibilities. As a GM, it’s important to allow flexibility and logic to guide you, as your players are sure to surprise you. They should get the chance to feel exceptionally competent in their character’s area of expertise. When a player tries something new with a skill, consider the option carefully, and be open to a creative interpretation of the skill. As a player, let yourself try new things with your skills. If a situation arises where you think you would be able to use your skill in an unusual way, give it a shot! Fate is more interesting when the unexpected arises and players use an unexpected method to overcome the situation at hand.