Fate System Toolkit
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New Stunt Rubrics
Stunts as presented in Fate Core provide numerous ways to customize your character, adding fun mechanical tweaks to the game. You get a little more out of each skill when you pick up stunts, and this can be a lot of fun. If you want to tweak your stunts even more, this section’s for you!
This is the easiest option to implement, as it’s merely a shift in how you think about stunts. In Fate Core, stunts are tied explicitly to skills. What if you want your stunts to be skill-agnostic, or tied to multiple skills, or tied to something else entirely different, like an aspect or piece of gear or a stress track? Some examples:
Ally’s Shield: You can invoke Dwarven Shield-Maiden when a nearby ally suffers an attack. When you do, redirect that attack to yourself. Your defense is Average (+1) against that attack.
Berserk Rage: When you suffer a physical consequence, you can invoke that consequence for free on your next attack. If you suffer multiple physical consequences, you get a free invocation for each.
Useful Little Things: Your pockets are full of useful little things. Whenever you need something, you have it, provided it’s not something too unusual (like a map to Jimmy Hoffa’s body) or too large to fit in a pocket, belt pouch, or backpack. When you say you have something, the GM should be likely to agree.
This isn’t really a mechanical change, just a shift in how you approach stunt design. Any of the above three examples could be tied to a skill—Provoke, Fighting, or Resources, for instance—but not thinking about which skill to tie your stunt to frees you up to be a bit more creative with your design, moving beyond +2s and skill swaps.
For stunts which are tied to aspects, you might view some of their effects as narrowly defined free invocations. Other aspected stunts might require an invocation, as Ally’s Shield (above) does, but give something extra or particularly unusual when the aspect is invoked. Such effects should be more potent than a “vanilla” invocation. You could even design a stunt that triggers under particular kinds of compels—just be careful you don’t end up neutering the downside with the resulting benefit.
Charge Like Ox: Because you are Strong Like Ox, once per scene, as a single action, you may move two zones in a straight line then make a physical attack.
Teflon Troublemaker: When your Can’t Keep His Big Mouth Shut aspect is compelled to make you the target of an attack, you may immediately clear any mild consequences you currently have, instead of taking a fate point.
When you use this stunt mechanic, you create stunts that trigger under a specific narrative condition, require a skill roll, and have a specific effect as a result. Stunts like this are a great way to encourage players to do the kinds of things you want to see them do in the game, as those stunts directly reward doing those things.
A Friend in Every Port: Whenever you enter a settlement, you may declare you’ve visited it before and roll Contacts against Fair (+2) opposition. If you succeed, you have a friend there who owes you one favor—nothing costly or life threatening. If you succeed with style, your friend will do any one thing for you that is within his power.
Not to Be Trifled With: When you make it clear how dangerous you are, roll Provoke against your target’s Will. If you succeed, that target will not attack you or willingly come near you unless you take action against him first. If you succeed with style, neither will anyone with a lower Will than your target.
Whirlwind Step: When you assume the stance of the whirlwind, roll Athletics against Fair (+2) opposition. If you succeed, you may run on vertical surfaces and leap unlikely distances without making rolls to do so, until your next turn ends. If you succeed with style, you may instead gain these benefits for the rest of the scene.
You probably noticed that none of these stunts say what happens when you tie or fail; this is deliberate. These triggered effects tend to be powerful, so their drawbacks should be equally so. A tie should be similar to a success, but at some sort of minor cost. On a failure, feel free to apply appropriate repercussions.
If you’re looking for more variety in your stunts than a +2 or its equivalent, consider the idea of a broad stunt that offers a +1 to two or three things. These could be three different actions within the same skill, or could branch across multiple related skills. If you’re going to allow broad stunts like this, watch out for the overlaps in stunt combinations: you don’t want two broad stunts giving the net effect of three +2s for the price of only two stunts.
If you want to offer particularly potent stunts, consider bundling the benefit of multiple stunts together to produce a single big effect. For example, you could create a stunt that provides a monstrous 4-shift effect—that’s a combination of two stunts, and as such would cost two refresh. (You may recognize this as the method used for constructing the supernatural powers in The Dresden Files RPG.) This kind of focused benefit can throw a game out of whack quickly, though. Consider limiting access to such “super-stunts,” either in quantity—e.g., “everyone only gets one double-stunt”—or in selection and permission—“only these stunts are available to werewolves.”