Thoughts on amount of skills...

I spend a lot of time now working on Fate. Part of it is just tinkering with a setting (like the Old West one I am making) and another is the actual fantasy game I am making using the system (Kushara’s Fate).

I am still trying to figure out just how I want to go about doing this.

My first question has to do with the amount of skill each player/npc will have. Fate Core’s highest skill rank is +4 Great and you have ten total skills. I both like and dislike this.

I like it because with only ten skills, it really makes you think about what skills you want your character to have. Mostly due to the fact that you don’t have that many to choose from and just makes it harder. It looks like this:
1 Great
2 Good
3 Fair
4 Average

But if your character is a fighter, you will obviously have that skill as your apex skill. Then maybe some kind of endurance or speed skills as well. The rest are just what you want your character to be. This is not an easy decision, since you only have a few skills that you are really good at.

The downside to that is just what I was saying. I sat here making a character last night and I must have played around with the skills for over thirty minutes, just cuz I could not make up my mind. It got a big annoying, but I also overthink things, so the annoyance did not last long. Also, if you don’t do it right, your character can be a bit lacking.

The alternative is to do what they did in DFRPG, which was to make +5 Superb the apex skill. It looks the same for the most part. It looks like this:
1 Superb
2 Great
3 Good
4 Fair
5 Average

This adds five more skills to the games and definitely gives more options to the player. I like this, but it does miss that sense of importance in choosing the skills since there are more to choose. An urgency that is there knowing that there is probably a skill you would like to have that is going to have to be left off due to not having any left.

I am going back and forth on this today.

This is why this is hard. Say my character is a magic user. One idea I have is that they choose the element and put it on what skill level they want. Like +4 Great Fire. That is the level they can cast at. But if they wanted to choose another element, it could be up to half of the higher level. So, they could have a +2 fair Earth. Or something like this. The idea being they have to have at least a +2 Fair to be able to cast a spell in each particular element.

+4 Magic (Fire)
+3 Will, spycraft
+2 Magic (Earth), agility, guile,
+1 Ranged weapon (bow), stealth, rapport, endurance

But if used the superb apex, it could look like this.

+5 magic (fire)
=4 Will, spycraft
+3 agility, guile, rapport
+2 Magic (earth), ranged weapons (bow), stealth, endurance, crafting
+1 wealth, melee weapon (sword), contacts, perception, survival

You get more skills, but I sometimes feel like you are just adding skills at +1 average to get it done. Skills that you don’t think you will ever use, but you have to put something there.

So, I am still undecided on this. I find myself leaning towards the way DFRPG does it, but then again, I don’t want the game to be TOO much like that. Is 10 skills enough for a campaign game? For a one shot it has worked well so far.

Decisions, decisions.


  1. I'm still making my way through Fate Core...is there a mechanic to level up and add more skills? If so, or if we add one, then the 4 level is good.

    I could actually see at early character levels you have the the 4 slots, but at certain character levels you would be able to improve skills, necessitating a superb slot down the road. Meaning a low-level magician will never be superb at Fire magic, they need to learn. But once they've been at it a while they can add that slot.

    The character as you built it seems strong for someone just starting out on a campaign, and for campaign play levelling is a good way to grow. My leaning is 4 slot for low-level. 5th slot (superb) opens up down the road.

    Sorry for the disjointed thoughts, working and considering lead to fast, disorganized typing. :)

  2. Actually, I think the amount of skills you get shouldn't be considered as an absolute number, but rather the ratio to the skills you do not get. FATE Core has 18 skills. The great pyramid gives you access to 10. In Dresden Files with a Superb pyramid you get 15 skills out of 25. The ration for FATE Core is roughly 55% and for DFRPG it is 60%. I think if you get more than that, all characters will start to feel the same and you won't be able to define a niche for your character. So getting 15 out 18 skills might be desirable from a player perspective, but it is not desirable from a role-playing/story perspective. The characters just won't feel different enough anymore.

  3. Oh, forgot: also remember that you can use stunts to get to use skills in new ways. Looking at the average (+1) skills, ask yourself: what do want to do with them? And then take a stunt that allows you to use a higher rated skill in that way instead of taking the actual skill.

  4. Yeah my skill list for the game so far is about 23-25 or so. So it will end up being around what Dresden does. That feels about right to me, but there could be on or two more.

    Love the conversation about this today though.