Monday, November 3, 2014

Character Statistics and Skills

The prior post talked about the expression of the characters' general "level" within the framework of Fate Core. This post will get a bit deeper in to the translation (I prefer to think of it as "translation" instead of "conversion") of a character's properties.

Character Properties

A character is largely defined in the source material by the following properties:

  • Attributes (STR, DEX, CON, etc.)
  • Class (Fighter, Wizard, Thief, Cleric)
  • Race (Human, Dwarf, Elf, Halfling, etc)
  • Abilities (Picking Locks, Turning Undead, Casting Spells, etc)

Those properties can all be expressed within the normal scope of the Fate Core system of Skills, Stunts and Aspects.

  • Skills would be for translating properties that are a matter of learning, experience or achievement.
  • Stunts are for those properties or abilities that represent something special, something is something special that would not be otherwise available or achievable by a character.
  • Aspects represent the expression of a narrative "truth".

Now of course these categories can get a bit blurred in a game world of High Fantasy, but nothing beyond what Fate Core can handle.


SoG expresses character attributes as Skills. Strength, Constitution, Wisdom, Dexterity and Charisma are all Skills.

They can hypertrophy with use, and atrophy with age or disuse. So yes: Strength is a skill. Dexterity is a skill. Elite athletes don't get to have elite characteristics without a lot of hard work to develop those skills.

Intelligence and Wisdom are Skills?

Currently there's a design decision in Fate Core that properties of Intelligence and Wisdom shouldn't be skills and I generally agree with that decision.

But on the other hand, the source material's reliance on those attributes for use by the Wizard class and the Cleric class might be best served by adding those attributes as Skills.

I previously talked about what might be done to address those needs without resorting to actual skills of Intelligence and Wisdom over here.

Translating Attribute as Skills - Qualitative Method

When it comes to Attributes that don't really have a measure ( do you measure Dexterity?), rather than stress too much about it, I'd rather apply something like this...

  • Attributes in the source material have a "normal" value between 3 and 18, with the potential to go as high as 25.
  • The source material's statistic range below 8 represents a "less than average" to "poor" range, whereas Fate Core's depiction of the "average" skill starts at +0.
  • Additionally, Mike Olson's Strange Fate reflected a design decision that +4 was representative of the high end of "normal" human potential before you "level up" into heroic and fantastic power level.

Putting those ideas together, SoG uses the following qualitative translation of Character Attributes...

9-11 = Skill +0
12-13 = Skill +1
14-15 = Skill +2
16-17 = Skill +3
18 = Skill +4

What About Low Attributes?

Rather than spend a lot of time on dealing with translating low attributes of 8 or less, I'd think I'd rather abstract this into two levels:

  • A low attribute (translate as a "-1" FC skill level)
  • An abysmal attribute (a "-1" FC skill level plus an overtly negative Aspect)

Abysmal Attribute Aspect Examples:
(Low Wisdom) "A Sack of Hammers has nothing on Me!"
(Low Intelligence) "Tetched in the Haid"
(Low Constitution) "A life spent studying scrolls"
(Low Strength) "Could you give me a hand with this two-handed sword?"
(Low Charisma) "Obnoxious"
(Low Dexterity) "Painfully klutzy"

Translating Attribute as Skill - Quantitative Method

I use this method wherever possible in SoG, based upon the conceit that the game world represents it's own reality--the rules just help quantify and define the boundaries of that reality. When you have a skill that relates to some quantifiable measure, then it's just a matter of figuring out where the levels "line up" and go from there.

A notable example of this process would be Strength. Compare the following two passages:

DMG, p. 15:

Exceptional Strength: Assume further that a strength of 18 indicates that the creature can lift weight equal to its own body weight, or 180 pounds, whichever is the greater, above its head.

A human with an 18 strength and an additional percentile dice roll is able to lift 1 additional pound for every percentage point up to and including 50%, 4 pounds for every percentage point from 51% to 90%, and 8 pounds for each percentage point from 91 % to 00%.

Spirit of the Century, "Lifting Things", p. 258:

Characters have a default amount of weight they can lift and still do something with that weight (like moving slowly, or trying to place it carefully), shown on this page in pounds. If purely lifting without moving – like, say, a heavy portcullis so others can scurry through – they can roughly double that capacity.

Those are sufficient to create the following convenient metrics of strength:

Max overhead lift (STR Attribute)SotC Weight Capacity (Might Skill)
9 = 90 lbs
10 = 100 lbsPoor (-1) = 100 lbs
15 = 150 lbsMediocre (+0) = 150 lbs
18 = 180 lbs
18/20 = 200 lbsAverage (+1) = 200 lbs
18/50 = 230 lbs
18/60 = 270 lbsFair (+2) = 250 lbs
18/70 = 310 lbsGood (+3) = 300 lbs
18/80 = 350 lbsGreat (+4) = 350 lbs
18/90 = 390 lbsSuperb (+5) = 400 lbs
Fantastic (+6) = 450 lbs
18/00 = 470 lbs
Epic (+7) = 500 lbs

Attributes Could Be One of Multiple Skills

With the existing skill list, there's some source material statistics that could be translated to one of a few skills...

The source material attribute that could have the most interpretations against the current skill list would be Charisma. Applications of that attribute could be any one of the following: Contacting, Deceit, Empathy, Leadership, Rapport.

For purposes of translating a character from the source material, pick the single application that is the best definition of how the character most directly uses that skill.

  • A Paladin might easily choose to have a good Leadership skill, and use that distinction to help define the character for the player as being different from a Paladin who might choose Empathy as the skill that represents her Charisma stat.
  • A thief with a high Charisma might choose to translate to a good Deceit and define his class as a Con Man. Or a thief would be distinguished as a Fixer if he chose Contacting.

This also fits with one of my guidelines of being on the right path--does the decision help the player portray his character more clearly? If yes: you're doing it right.

The Actual Skill List

The following is the current skill list for Spirit of Greyhawk. The following table shows the entire skill list, then each character class has access to a subset of the total skills from which to define their skill pyramid.

SoG SkillClericFighterWizardThief
Agility (DEX)YesApexYesApex
Alertness (INT)YesApexYesApex
Contacting (CHA)YesYesYesApex
Deceit (CHA)ApexYesYesApex
Empathy (CHA)ApexYesYesYes
Investigation (INT)YesYesApexApex
Leadership (CHA)ApexApexYesYes
Might (STR)YesApexYesYes
Rapport (CHA)ApexYesYesApex
Resolve (WIS)ApexYesApexYes
Sleight of Hand (DEX)YesYesApexApex
Toughness (CON)YesApexYesYes

For every skill, there's the following "states"...

No means that a character has had no access to any special training in this skill. Again, this was meant to represent a culture that has evolved an educational system based upon guilds.

Yes means that a character can elect one of these skills to go into their skill pyramid in any position in the pyramid EXCEPT for the pyramid's single top slot--known as the "Apex" skill.

Apex means that a character can elect this skill to be in the top position in the pyramid. Considered the skill that most clearly defines the character as being a member of a particular class. In other words, the Apex skill defines the "level" of the character. A fighter with an Apex skill of "Missile" at +3 would be considered to be a 6th level character in terms of the source material.

Once sub-classes like Rangers, Bards and Paladins are ready for sharing, there's also an idea that certain skills would have a numeric value assigned to them to represent that the minimum value that a character's Apex skill must have in order to add this skill.

For example, the "Wizardry" skill is currently only available to the "Wizard" class. Once the Ranger class is added, a ranger could elect to add the Wizardry skill once the character's Apex skill has reached at least +4 (i.e., 8th level Ranger).

In a similar vein, it's likely that certain skills might also have limitations for certain classes, races, based upon other skills (attributes).

Attributes Could Be One of Multiple Skills

With the existing skill list, there's some source material attributes that could be translated to one of a few skills...

The source material attribute that could have the most interpretations against the current skill list would be Charisma. Applications of that attribute could be any one of the following: Contacting, Deceit, Empathy, Leadership, Rapport.

For purposes of translating a character from the source material, pick the single application that is the best definition of how the character most directly uses that skill.

  • A Paladin might easily choose to have an apex skill of Leadership (or even have it as one of the higher skill levels), and use that distinction to help define the character for the player as being different from a Paladin who might choose Empathy as the skill that represents her Charisma stat.
  • A Thief with a high Charisma might choose to translate that to an apex skill of Deceit and play his Thief class as more of a con man. Or a thief would be distinguished as a Fixer if he chose Contacting.

This also fits with one of my guidelines of being on the right path--does the decision help the player portray his character more clearly? If yes: then I say you're doing it right.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Characters and Levels

Spirit of Greyhawk's character generation process is probably as much about "conversion" as it is about "generation". Or at least you need to be considering the viewpoint that players will likely be looking at their SoG character with a thought about how it looks from the perspective of the source material. By way of a running start, here's a summary of "starting characters" in Fate Core and Spirit of the Century...

Fate Core Starting Character Summary

Skill Pyramid: 1 x (+4), 2 x (+3), 3 x (+2), 4 x (+1)
Stress Track (Base): OOO in each track
Aspects: 1 High Concept + 1 Trouble + 3 Additional Aspects
Fate Point / Refresh: 3
Stunts: 3 free stunts, extra stunts cost Refresh

Spirit of the Century Starting Character Summary

Skill Pyramid: 1 x (+5), 2 x (+4), 3 x (+3), 4 x (+2), 5 x (+1)
Stress Track (Base): OOOOO in each track
Aspects: 5 phases x 2 aspects = 10 aspects total
Fate Point / Refresh: 5
Stunts: 5

...From that information and a bit of fiddling with the dials, I generally consider Fate Core starting characters to be the equivalent of 8th level, relative to the source material. Spirit of the Century starting characters would the equivalent of 10th level.

So given those two points of reference, I ventured off on that heading to make the following character "levels" for Spirit of Greyhawk. SoG uses a guild-based naming convention--I like the concept that the game's feel reinforces a cultural assumption for the game world that education is generally a function of a feudal-ish guild structure, and that a character class is a guide into the sum total of that character's skills. Plus, the source material's class titles implied a pretty similar assumption.

Spirit of Greyhawk - Character "Levels"

"Apprentice" (0 Level--in case anyone wants to try it)

Skill Pyramid: All at +0
Stress Track (Base): (none), one hit takes out character (barring Consequences)
Aspects: 1 Race/Alignment Aspect
Fate Point / Refresh: 0 Stunts: 0

"Craftsman" (2nd Level)

(This would be closest to the source material starting character)
Skill Pyramid: 1 x (+1)
Stress Track (Base): O in each track
Aspects: 1 Class Aspect + 1 Race/Alignment Aspect
Fate Point / Refresh: 1
Stunts: 1

"Journeyman" (4th Level)

Skill Pyramid: 1 x (+2), 2 x (+1)
Stress Track (Base): OO
Aspects: 1 Class Aspect + 1 Race/Alignment Aspect + 1 Additional Phase Aspect
Fate Point / Refresh: 2
Stunts: 2

NOTE: The "Additional Phase Aspect" is similar to a character creation phase, because the character has now begun journeying.)

"Experienced Journeyman" (6th Level--I haven't researched a better title yet)

Skill Pyramid: 1 x (+3), 2 x (+2), 3 x (+1)
Stress Track (Base): OOO
Aspects: 1 Class Aspect + 1 Race/Alignment Aspect + 2 Additional Phase Aspects
Fate Point / Refresh: 3
Stunts: 3

"Master" (8th Level)

Skill Pyramid: 1 x (+4), 2 x (+3), 3 x (+2), 4 x (+1)
Stress Track (Base): OOOO
Aspects: 1 Class Aspect + 1 Race/Alignment Aspect + 3 Additional Phase Aspects
Fate Point / Refresh: 4
Stunts: 4

"Guild Master" (10th Level)

Skill Pyramid: 1 x (+5), 2 x (+4), 3 x (+3), 4 x (+2), 5 x (+1)
Stress Track (Base): OOOOO
Aspects: 1 Class Aspect + 1 Race/Alignment Aspect + 4 Additional Phase Aspects
Fate Point / Refresh: 5
Stunts: 5

Reinforcing the Character Class Mechanic

To further support the source material's assumption of character classes, and working again from the assumption that education in the game world is largely a result of a guild system, Spirit of Greyhawk has a rule mechanic that separates the skills for all classes into three categories...

  • Skills that a particular class can elect to have in their skill list. A Thief can choose the Missile skill, just not as an Apex skill.
  • Skills that a particular class can elect as their Apex skill. For example, the Wizard class is the only class that can elect Wizardry as an Apex Skill.
  • Skills that are not available for a particular class. A Fighter cannot elect the Wizardry skill.

...So while it's conceivable from a narrative perspective that a fighter COULD have the Wizardry skill, it would require the character to multi-class / split-class to gain access to skills that wouldn't be otherwise available via a single class. Additionally (and this probably doesn't even need to be said), the distinction between classes also provides a more natural backdrop in the game world for why characters of different classes would band together into adventuring parties: to gain access to skills that would improve chances of survival.

Low-Level Non-Fighters and Combat Emphasis

There is a natural tendency for players with low-level characters in the non-Fighter classes to want to select the Melee or Missile skill as early as possible, to improve their chances of surviving combat. However, this can result in the majority of successful (i.e., surviving) low-level Thief and Wizard characters to be less distinguishable from the Fighter characters or Clerics. SoG tries to encourage non-fighter characters in two ways:

  • The Skills by Class table (shown in post "Character Statistics and Skills") requires a non-fighter character to pick an apex skill that is NOT Melee or Missile.
  • Similar to the source material, give all starting character classes a truly "free" stunt: Weapon Specialization. This means that the character will pick a weapon from the Weapons Table and when the character is fighting with that weapon (and only with that type of weapon), they receive a +1 bonus.

Given the larger benefit of a +1 in the Fate Core game mechanic, hopefully this gives a player a comfort level that the non-fighter character is not being unduly penalized when it comes to combat.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Weapons and Armor, part 2

Continuing on from Part 1...

Idea Three: Add More Fate Dice

The idea of having weapons and armor be a constant benefit (+1 to +4) and leave the variability to skill differential and 4dF (luck), didn't really have a desireable feel in relation to the source material. So there was the idea that you could just add more Fate dice, based upon the weapon or armor you were carrying. The better the weapon or armor, the more dice you added.


  • You only need more FATE dice, and that's it. The fact that it also supports sales of FATE Dice is just a happy coincidence.
  • Conceptually, it's a relatively easy adjustment to understand.
  • Stackable bonuses are easier to factor in.


  • Would still require multiple dice configurations (see last article), though keeping track of a number of dice is easier than working with multiple dice color combinations.
  • Scaling - Again, scales too fast for the different weapon / armor versions.
  • Devalues character skills, especially once you start factoring in stackable bonuses.

So, with all that out of the way, here's what SoG is currently using...

Current Iteration: Spirit of Greyhawk Weapons and Armor

  • Roll the usual 4dF for Hit / Defend actions, using Skills/Stunts as per normal. That determines the success/failure of the attack, any extra degree of success are extra shifts of stress.
  • If the attack is successful, any damage from the weapon (i.e., beyond the shifts generated by the margin of success) is determined by rolling a particular number of Fate dice assigned to that Weapon. Any extra shifts from the weapon are added to the shifts from the margin of success in the prior step and the net stress is assigned to the defender.
  • If the defender has any armor, roll the Fate dice assigned to that armor.
  • For the Weapons and Armor dice, any "+" result counts as a +1 for either a Weapon’s damage or an Armor’s protection.

The value of the armor’s protection is then subtracted from the total damage--anything not yet absorbed by the armor is counted against the stress track.


Melee Skill (+2)
Athletics Skill (+1)
Weapon: Battle Axe (Weapon dF: 3)
Armor: Chain Mail (Armor dF: 5)

Melee Skill (+1)
Athletics Skill (+3)
Weapon: Dagger (Weapon dF: 1)
Armor: Padded Armor (Armor dF: 2)

The Thief stabs at the Fighter first (let's just say he's faster). Fate Dice are rolled as normal...

Fighter's dice are White, Thief's dice are Green
  • Attack (Thief): Skill (Melee, +1) + Dice (4dF, result: +1) = +2
  • Defense (Fighter): Skill (Athletics, +1) + Dice (4dF, result: -1) = 0
  • Result: +2 - (+0) = Attack succeeds, +2 shifts damage.

Weapon / Armor dice are now rolled...

Fighter's dice are White, Thief's dice are Green
  • Thief's Weapon Damage: Weapon (Dagger 1d, +0 result) = +0 damage
  • Fighter's Armor Defense: Armor (Chain Mail 5d, +2 result) = +2 defense
  • Result: Attack Shifts (+2) + Weapon Damage (+0) - Armor Defense (+2) = 2+0-2 = 0 physical stress to the Fighter

The Fighter hacks at the Thief. Fate Dice are rolled as normal...

Fighter's dice are White, Thief's dice are Green
  • Attack (Fighter): Skill (Melee, +2) + Dice (4dF, result: +2) = +4
  • Defense (Thief): Skill (Athletics, +3) + Dice (4dF, result: -2) = +1
  • Result: +4 - (+1) = Attack succeeds, +3 shifts damage.

Weapon / Armor dice are rolled...

Fighter's dice are White, Thief's dice are Green
  • Fighter's Weapon Damage: Weapon (Battle Axe 3dF, +1 result) = +1 damage
  • Thief Armor Defense: Armor (Padded Armor 2dF, +1 result) = +1 defense
  • Result: Attack Shifts (+3) + Weapon Damage (+1) - Armor Defense (+1) = 3+1-1 = 3 physical stress to the Thief

Rules about Bonuses

Weapons with an enchantment that improves the chance to hit can use that extra die during the first roll, using the "die face of '+' counts as +1" result, before rolling damage. So any extra shift(s) from the weapon would count towards both success and damage (similar to the source material). An extra die color would probably help here.

Bonuses that are "damage only" would be rolled during the weapon damage, as normal.

Stunt-related bonuses (eg., Weapon Specialization) that improve chances to hit would also be treated similar to enchantments. But now stunts can be broke out by improvements to hit and / or improvements to damage.

Design Points

Consistent with the source material, the general approach is that mundane (unenchanted) melee weapons don't make it easier to hit an opponent--it makes the damage count MORE when you hit them. This means it's the player's skill with the weapon that is the most important--and I like that.

Though armor in SoG follows the basic premise of the source material in that it makes it harder to hit an opponent (by an offset to the attacker's shifts), it would be more accurate to say that armor in SoG makes an attack less likely to damage to its wearer.

The scalability of the weapon / armor benefit being limited to only the "+" die result appears to allow a nice degree of granularity without overwhelming the Fate Core scale. Given a cumulative probability of around 50%, I believe it takes 11 dice before the weapon / armor benefit would average a result better than a +4.

Of course it's possible a mundane weapon could score big time (i.e., the halberd above rolls all 4 Fate dice at "+"), but that chance appears pretty small. About a 1.2% chance, if I’m reading it right. However as any observer of gambling stats knows, the POSSIBILITY that a really good roll could result is where the excitement is at.

So with the design approach settled (for the moment), the next step was to actually translate Weapon damage ranges and the Armor classes from the source material.

Translating Armor

Translating armor was the easier place to start, because there are a finite range of possibilities: from unarmored to the best possible (epic, deity-level) protection, there are only 21 values. Starting from the idea in Fate Core that a +4 armor benefit was really serious personal armor, and then fiddling with the dials a bit to take into account things like "shields should count for an improvement in armor benefit" and the like, I arrived at a maximum mundane (non-enchanted) armor benefit of 7 dice.

Statistically speaking, 7 Fate dice (counting the "+" as +1), translates to a 74% cumulative probability of getting at least a +2 benefit.

Overall, armor values have gone from 21 possible levels of protection (10 to -10 in the source material) down to 14 levels (in SoG). Which means going from unarmored (+0 dice), to a conversion maximum (i.e., best possible armor class, god-like level) of +13 dice.

Translating Weapons

The translation of weapons and damage bonuses was more of a balancing act than a straight translation. The balance was more about adding enough granularity into mundane weapon damage to make things interesting (like making sure halberds and 2-handed swords could still be scary), but still leave enough room open at the higher end of the scale for things like dragon fire and so forth.

The source material’s weapons table originally had 9 variations of dice to determine the damage ranges of all the weapons on that table. In keeping with FC’s low-resolution approach, SoG mundane weapons has 5 variations.

Thinking ahead to monsters and some of the unusual damage ranges you can find in other related materials, I may try to put together some guidelines based upon a Fate dice recommendation based upon a source material listing for min damage value and max damage value.

So here’s some sample values (in addition to those listed above) for those who want to just start rolling for those "+"...


  • Shields are good for an extra 1 die to the benefit of the armor being worn.
  • Leather armor (2 dF)
  • Chain Mail (5 dF)
  • Plate Mail (6 dF)


  • Dagger (1 dF)
  • Morningstar (3 dF)
  • Quarterstaff (2 dF) (aspect: 2-handed weapon, can be improvised)
  • Bastard Sword (3 dF) (aspect: can use 2-handed)

(The screen-caps were taken on the dice-rolling app Pip)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Weapons and Armor, part 1

I wanted to share what I've been most recently working on--integrating the gameworld's emphasis upon weapons and armor into the Fate Core ruleset. Here are my guidelines for success:

  • Provide the game with a feel that weapons, armor and upgrades "matter".
  • It has to be scalable.
  • It can’t slow down the pace too much. Fate Core tends to play at a faster pace, relative to the source material.
  • Weapons and Armor can’t totally overshadow character skills. Skills still have to matter. This is more of a personal goal and more consistent with the tenets of Fate Core, rather than an expectation from the source material.
  • It has to be able to handle magical weapons / armor, without having to bolt on extra mechanics on top of what was already being implemented for weapons / armor. Additionally it also has to play well with other "stacking" bonuses (Strength, etc.)

Here's some ideas I tried, and why I didn't use them. Note that this isn't a criticism or rejection of these ideas, but perhaps my experiences might help some readers with their own efforts.

Idea One: Weapons and Armor have their Own Polyhedral Dice

I had a thought that you could define the benefit of weapons and armor as the value of polyhedral dice (d2, d3, d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, d20, etc) and use those combinations to represent the damage increase / decrease of those items.


  • The polyhedral dice gave a nice emotional connection to the source material. I really-really liked this concept.
  • The dice could be thrown at the same time as the Fate dice and were easy to distinguish from the actual Fate dice roll. So, you only needed one roll of the dice to handle IF an action was a success or not, as well as the DEGREE of the success/failure. This was in keeping with Fate Core’s own dice-rolling and didn’t slow down the pace.


  • The progression scales up too fast. At Fate Core's degree of granularity, the difference between a d4 and d6 is too dramatic, due to the scale of a "+1" bonus being very different between Fate Core and the source material. For example, the source material's weapons table has 9 different ranges of damage: from 1-3 and 1-10. In order to fit in with Fate Core's scale, you need something closer to DFRPG's 4 levels of damage/protection.
  • As a knock-on effect, putting too much value on the weapons reduces the value of a character's Skills. When you start to factor in the various ranges of damage from Monsters, it gets even harder to keep Skills as the most important factor in success.
  • Factoring in magical benefits and other bonuses stressed the scaling even further.

Idea Two: Tri-Color Dice

There's been a few versions of this idea--a "+" result for one color of Fate die would result in an additional +1 benefit (let's call this the blue dice), and a "(blank)" or "+" result for another color would result in an additional +1 benefit (let's call this the red dice).


  • It's in the Fate Core Toolkit. Fate fans could easily accept the change.
  • It was also considered that there could be certain weapons that possessed color types that gave different effect (white could be considering "bashing" damage, blue could be for absorbing / dealing "slashing" damage, red could be for absorbing / dealing "Piercing" damage). This gave a tactical consideration to weapons and armor selection that I liked.
  • The three colors and the context of the die result allowed for a feel of different gradations that doesn’t scale up too fast.


  • In playtesting, this concept felt like it needed too much overhead for players to keep track of the various dice "configurations", which slows down play too much for my taste. A player with only one character would need to keep track of two dice configurations: one dice configuration for the defensive/armor setup, and one for the offensive/weapon setup. This gets even worse for the DM, needing two configurations for each monster!
  • There's a finite number of tri-color dice combinations--specifically, there are 14 combinations of the progression from 4 white Fate dice up to all 4 red Fate dice. When you start having to factor in the various monster-damage combinations, this finite amount is tough to manage with respect to weapons/monster damage. Because there are a finite number of Armor Classes (21), this could scale okay for armor. However there's a LOT of different dice combinations used to describe weapons damage, especially once you factor in monsters' damage dice. This could also prove tricky when trying to provide conversion guidelines for adventure modules, etc.
  • Bonuses that stack (Stunts, Skills, Enchantments) stressed that finite number of dice combinations even further. Additionally, if the colors represented a tactical distinction, then the bonuses just watered that down.
  • Last and perhaps only a nit-pick of mine: describing the tri-color dice combinations required creating a Fate dice number/color shorthand, which seemed to be more confusion than I wanted. The best I ever did was come up with something that looked like this: 2dF(W)1dF(B)1dF(R).

The current version of Weapons / Armor modifiers did use something from this idea. The next post, Weapons and Armor, part 2 covers all this.

(The screen-caps were taken on the dice-rolling app Pip)

Friday, August 22, 2014


Hello and thanks for clicking your way here!

What Is "Spirit of Greyhawk"?

Spirit of Greyhawk (SoG) is an implementation of Evil Hat's Fate Core, with the idea that the rules try to reflect "the way things worked" in the gameworld of Greyhawk, circa the late 70's and early 80's.

For example, if a player came to a session of SoG with the past experience that, in the world of Greyhawk, trolls take extra damage from fire, hitting a troll in SoG with a torch would have the expected effect.

The goal is to make a set of rules that takes advantage of all the positives that Fate Core allows, but still gives players the sense that they have been adventuring in the world of Greyhawk.

So the point of the ruleset is to invoke the "spirit" of Greyhawk. Which also makes the working title a no-brainer. This project was started at a time when Evil Hat's Spirit of the Century was the state-of-the-art Fate ruleset. Which should also give Fate-o-philes a sense of the pace at which I've been working.

What Makes Spirit of Greyhawk Different?

Spirit of Greyhawk is about trying to recreate the "play experience" of what it was like to play in the world of Greyhawk. The conceit of SoG is that the rules in the source material were written to describe the way things work in the world of Greyhawk.

Think of the basic translation process as working like this:

Take the source material's rules and turn that into a series of assumptions about how something works in the gameworld. From those assumptions, apply Fate Core rules to portray assumptions using the "Fate fractal" to expand where necessary.

Hopefully, this would provide RPG players of a certain age (like me) the opportunity to play Fate in a world that is already somewhat familar.

When I actually get an all-too-rare opportunity to spend a few hours with friends at the table-top, I don't want to spend that time having to learn a new version of rules for a world I've already put a lot of work into understanding. I love Fate Core, I love old-school Greyhawk. Simple enough. Though that's not the same as saying "easy enough"...

So, What's the Goal?

I don't consider myself a game designer, so much as a game master in need of a ruleset that helps me tell the stories I want to tell, the way I want to tell them. The actual goal (more than a hope) is to get to a compiled ruleset and that it would be something worth sharing with people who are looking for something similar.

The blog's goal is be a workspace to test ideas, noodle around theories, gather opinions, and in general be a reason to push myself to keep progressing towards that goal of a compiled ruleset.

Roll Credits!

I'll start with a very sincere debt of gratitude to Mike Olson, who has been gracious enough to let the Spirit of Greyhawk project "crash on the sofa" of his blog the last few years. He was also kind enough to encourage me to put this project into its own blog.

To Jeff Bradley, who has been a tireless sounding board for Spirit of Greyhawk playtests. Your unflagging positive energy (and inspired roleplay) has been a great resource--not sure I'd be posting today without your support. Here's a mug of ale to Rysc and Muntz--the Laurel and Hardy of SoG--long may they annoy each other!

To Bill Burdick: my partner in crime since the second grade. Discovering Steve Jackson's Melee and Wizard Microgames truly was the beginning of the end for us.

And a tip of the hat to Nick Daly, for reminding me that people still read those original SoG posts that appeared on Mike O's Spirit of the Blank blog.

And of course the whole project is really a love letter to the work and endless imaginations of E. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson.