by Mike Shea on 5 May 2014
Originally posted on 10 December 2013.
Begin the game by naming your character, applying scores to your attributes, developing a high concept, and defining a trouble for your PC. Fill out remaining aspects and add stunts during the game to develop your own story as the game progresses.
Apply scores (+3, +2, +2, +1, +1, 0) to Attributes (Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma) in any order.
Develop a high concept such as "Brash Dwarven Fighter" or "Erudite Elf Wizard".
Example Adjectives: 1 brash, 2 curious, 3 erudite, 4 quiet, 5 violent, 6 charming, 7 scarred, 8 generous, 9 proud, 10 uncivilized, 11 friendly, 12 noble, 13 chivalrous, 14 relaxed, 15 stern, 16 cold, 17 loud, 18 lone, 19 inquisitive, 20 cheery.
Example Races: Human, Dwarf, Elf, or Halfling.
Example Classes: Cleric, fighter, mage, thief, ranger, sorcerer, or paladin.
Choose a Trouble: 1 hunted 2 notorious 3 addicted 4 angry 5 cursed 6 wanted 7 fearful 8 snobbish 9 violent 10 feared 11 marked 12 greedy 13 haunted 14 sloth 15 pessimistic 16 undisciplined 17 cowardly 18 vengeful 19 curious 20 mischievous.
As the game progresses, choose three additional aspects such as relationships, backgrounds, or unique items.
Example Relationships: 1 sibling 2 protector 3 apprentice 4 captor 5 childhood friend 6 fellow prisoner 7 fellow slave 8 acolyte 9 employee 10 charmed victim 11 sworn enemy 12 guardsmen 13 business associates 14 grifters 15 guild members 16 war veterans 17 serf 18 lost friends 19 ritually bonded 20 drinking buddies
Example Unique Items: 1 your mother's sword 2 ancient armor 3 father's smithy hammer 4 orcslayer 5 mysterious gem 7 lich's skull 8 eldritch wand 9 possessed ring 10 red robes of the arch mage 11 amulet of the planes 12 forbidden tome 13 living longbow 14 obsidian dagger 15 dragon fang 16 sword of kings 17 singing pearl 18 hammer of thunderbolts 19 flametongue sword 20 staff of the magi
Choose up to three stunts as the game progresses or build your own custom stunts using these as a model.
Adventurer's Luck: Begin each session with one extra Fate point.
Backstab: +2 to Attack an opponent currently fighting an ally in melee while you wield a light blade.
Bag of Holding: Short of unique or magical items, you always have the right tool for the right job.
Berserker Rage: +2 to Attack an enemy that has caused you stress or given you a consequence.
Brute: +2 to Overcome heavy objects, barred doors, or other heavy obstacles.
Cleave: When fighting with a heavy blade, apply the results of an Attack to two nearby foes or gain +2 to Attack a horde in melee.
Cloud of Daggers: Once per scene, when wielding a dagger, you can apply the results of an Attack to up to three targets you can see or gain +3 when Attacking a horde.
Commune: Once per game session spend a Fate point to commune with your god and receive the truthful "yes" or "no" answer to any one question.
Comprehend Languages: You can read and understand most languages.
Cure Moderate Wounds: Spend a Fate point to remove a moderate consequence from a single ally.
Empowered Spell: +2 to Attack, Defend, Overcome, or Create an Advantage when using a particular spell against a single monster or horde.
First Strike: +2 to Attack an enemy that has not yet acted this scene.
Guardian: Once per scene, you can take on stress that would normally be applied to a nearby ally.
Hail of Arrows: Once per scene, when firing a bow, you can either apply an Attack to three targets you can see or you can gain +3 when Attacking a horde.
Hunter's Mark: +2 to Create a "Hunter's Mark" Advantage against a single opponent.
Knight's Protection: +2 to Create a "Protected" Advantage.
Mage Armor: +2 to Create a "Mage Armor" Advantage.
Master Duelist: +2 to Attack an opponent in one-on-one combat while you wield a light weapon.
Master Lockpicker: +2 to Overcome locks.
Master of Disguise: +2 to Create a "Master Disguise" Advantage.
Slayer: +2 to Attack a particular monster type such as goblin, orc, human, undead, demon, or dragon. You can always tell when such a monster is nearby.
Oath of Enmity: +2 to Create an "Oath of Enmity" Advantage against a single specific enemy.
Phalanx: +2 to Defend against ranged attacks.
Power Attack: +2 to Attack a single opponent when wielding a heavy weapon.
Protection from Evil: +2 to Create a "Protection from Evil" Advantage.
Hide in Shadows: +2 to Create a "Hidden in Shadows" Advantage.
Second Wind: Once per game session you can reduce a consequence from severe to moderate, moderate to mild, or remove a mild consequence completely.
Shadowmaster: Once per game session, you can completely disappear until you perform a hostile action or until the end of the scene.
Shield Master: +2 to Defend against a single attack each turn.
Smite Evil: +2 to Attack undead or demons.
Taunt: Once per scene you can command an enemy or horde to attack you instead of your allies.
Trapmaster: +2 to Overcome traps.
Trapsense: You always know when traps are nearby.
Turn Undead: +2 to Create a "Turned" Advantage against undead foes.
Twin Strike: When fighting with two weapons or a ranged weapon, apply the results of an Attack to two opponents in the same zone or gain +2 when Attacking a horde.
Two Weapon Fighting: While fighting with two weapons, if you succeed with style (3 or more) when Defending, you can inflict 2 stress to your attacker rather than take a boost.
Weapon Finesse: When attacking with a light weapon, your successful Attacks inflict two additional stress.
Whirlwind Attack: Once per scene, when wielding two weapons, apply the results of an Attack to three opponents or gain +3 when attacking a horde.
Witchhunter: +2 to Attack spellcasters.
Spell casting works like any other action. Describe the spell, choose intelligence or wisdom and the appropriate action: Overcome, Create an Advantage, Attack, or Defend.
Example Mage Spells: detect magic, light, ray of frost, ghost sound, mage hand, alarm, shield, fog, charm person, sleep, burning hands, magic missile, acid arrow, darkness, scorching ray, invisibility, levitate, dispel magic, explosive runes, fireball, lightning bolt, magic weapon, wall of fire.
Example Cleric Spells: create water, cure wounds, detect magic, inflict wounds, light, purify, resist fire, bless, divine favor, circle of protection, sanctuary, shield of faith, consecrate, hold person, spiritual weapon, create food and water, daylight, locate object, remove curse, remove disease, searing light, speak with dead, restoration.
Players select what items their PCs possess within reason. High dexterity represents light armor and weapons. High strength represents heavy weapon use. High constitution determines heavy armor use. Particularly powerful items work well as character aspects.
Only players roll dice. GMs determine a challenge level (1 to 8) for challenges including traps, hazards, secrets, and monsters. Players roll against those challenge levels to attack, defend, overcome, or create advantages.
A monster's level determines its attack, defense, number of stress boxes, and size of stress boxes. A level 4 monster attacks at 4, defends at 4, and has 4 stress boxes of 1, 2, 3, and 4 points each.
Level 3 monsters are roughly equivalent of PCs. Monster levels 1 and 2 are significantly weaker than PCs. Monster levels 4 and 5 are significant threats. Monsters of level 6 and above may be deadly to PCs. Beware!
Monsters can group up into "hordes" that act like a single monster at a single level. For example, a large group of zombies might be a level 3 zombie horde. Stunts may specifically target hordes or single foes.
In each scene, the GM receives 1 Fate point per PC in combat encounters usable by monsters. Fate points can give level 4+ monsters extra actions.
Creating an Advantage almost always has a challenge level of 2. Advantages generally don't last more than the scene in which they are created. PCs generally cannot maintain more than one Advantage in a scene.
Magic items have Aspects with two free invocations that PCs can carry from scene to scene. Powerful magic items may also have stunts. Example: "Orcslayer Axe", two free invocations, +2 to Attack orcs.
Turn order starts with the PC with the highest dexterity furthest away from the GM.
Random Names: 1 Ricward Angel bane 2 Norward Gem viper 3 Aratora Oak runner 4 Jametor Anvil brissle 5 Belnan Gentle harp 6 Zanhand Quick change 7 Lagwen Black flinger 8 Corstina Goose glove 9 Farmice Red board 10 Elros Bull spear 11 Thoster Giant dance 12 Wilkas Riddle master 13 Graven Blue whisper 14 Thoster Ghost dancer 15 Yathra Rain tromp 16 Alunys Bright wing 17 Loratranna Ghoul heart 18 Peter Sharp hammer 19 Zangold Broad cloak 20 Olave Glory hound
Monsters By Level (roll 1d20)
Level 2: 1 kobold hordes 2 goblin hordes 3 skeletal hordes 4 rat hordes
Level 3: 5 evil adventurers 6 gnolls 7 ghouls 8 zombie hordes 9 skeletal hordes
Level 4: 10 ogres 11 humanoid lords 12 powerful wizards 13 wraiths 14 ghoul hordes 15 orc hordes
Level 5: 16 vampire lord 17 giant 18 mature dragon 19 demon 20 roll 1d10 below
Level 6: 1 lich 2 true demon 3 elder dragon 4 dragon lich
Level 7: 5 demon lord 6 titan 7 ancient dragon
Level 8: 8 demigod 9 elder evil 10 great old one
Room Functions: 1 privy 2 torture chamber 3 dungeon cells 4 laboratory 5 sacrificial altar 6 museum 7 sleeping chamber 8 library 9 summoning chamber 10 pool 11 kitchen 12 pantry 13 armory 14 throne room 15 crypt 16 scrying chamber 17 treasury 18 kennel 19 monstrous menagerie 20 chapel
Room Details: 1 sinful tapestries 2 everburning candelabras 3 shifting artwork 4 intricately runed chests 5 forbidden tomes 6 blood-filled fountains 7 crying statues 8 floating orbs 9 a moving starmap on ceiling 10 a miniature moving map 11 a dais and throne 12 rumbling counterweights 13 steam fissures 14 rushing waterway 15 butchers hooks 16 torture implements 17 unidentifiable corpses 18 sacrificial altar 19 a burning dragons skull 20 whispering religious symbols
Trap Triggers: 1 idol on pedestal 2 weapon on altar 3 alternating floor tiles 4 proximity to statue 5 treasure chest 6 shelf of books 7 book on pedestal 8 statue holding a real sword 9 tiny threads strung across the room 10 door 11 glass orb that vibrates with sound 12 wall art 13 common spoken word 14 magnets 15 child's toy 16 loose satchel 17 throne 18 manned peepholes 19 hanging rope 20 giant knockers
Trap Type (roll twice and combine!): 1 crossbows 2 darts 3 pit 4 delicate pots 5 moving walls 6 boiling oil 7 spears 8 gas expulsion 9 floor spikes 10 catapult 11 bear traps 12 flying razors 13 swinging axe 14 electrical rods 15 falling rocks 16 ballista 17 released construct 18 magical gem 19 magical glyph 20 otherworldly spirit
Element Type(add to traps for flavor): 1 fire 2 lightning 3 sonic 4 necrotic 5 radiant 6 water 7 acid 8 poison 9 disease 10 cold 11 cursed 12 ooze 13 molten metal 14 dense smoke 15 corrosive salt 16 acidic rusting agent 17 vacuum 18 luminescent paste 19 unholy essence 20 dreamstuff
Treasure: 1 sacrificial dagger 2 battleworn axe 3 mystical sword 4 runed crown 5 ancient sword 6 kings armor 7 forbidden spellbook 8 thirsty sword 9 runed jewel 10 onyx demonic statue 11 ivory wand 12 icy sword 13 glyphed hammer 14 bow of living wood 15 singing sword 16 bleeding axe 17 flaming mace 18 shadowy cloak 19 scorched leathers 20 holy avenger
Mundane Items: 1 intricate lamp 2 prayer beads 3 silver mirror 4 hard cheese 5 quills and ink 6 iconic idol 7 defaced artwork 8 ancient coin 9 hunting knife 10 silver ring 11 gold amulet 12 tiny music box 13 silver bell 14 clay pipe 15 pouch of teeth 16 spyglass 17 child's doll 18 small sextent 19 strange compass 20 speaking stone
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Dungeons of Fate is a Fate Accelerated rules superset intended for D&D-style dungeon delving adventures. It's intended for single-session or short-run campaigns with either a classic D&D adventure or some off-the-cuff dungeon explorations. It's designed heavily around the concepts of the Lazy Dungeon Master.
The PDF of Dungeons of Fate is only four pages. It's intended to be printed double-sided with the character sheet and player rules on one sheet and the GM worksheet and GM rules on the other. It expects that GMs are familiar with Fate Core and Fate Accelerated though players can be new to RPGs and still have a good time. If you aren't experienced with Fate, you'll want to spend some time with the Fate Core System Reference or Fate Accelerated System Reference.
Dungeons of Fate focuses Fate's open-ended elements towards typical D&D ideas to help new players get into the game quickly. Instead of open-ended aspects, Dungeons of Fate suggests typical D&D races and classes for a High Concept along with a character-defining adjective like "angry" or "erudite". It also has suggestions for the trouble, Fiasco-style relationships, and treasured items based on Rob Donoghue's idea of an "aspect anchor".
Instead of Fate Accelerated's six approaches, Dungeons of Fate uses the standard D&D attributes. These compare easily to the six approaches but still bring more of a D&D flavor into the system.
The four action types, invocations, compels, Fate points, stress, and conditions are all pulled directly from Fate Accelerated.
Stunts can be hard for new players to come up with on their own so the character creation guidelines includes a bunch of prebuilt stunts, many of which can be customized for a particular character.
Challenges and monsters are simplified in Dungeons of Fate. Instead of building monsters as characters with aspects and stunts, Dungeons of Fate takes a lesson from Monte Cook's Numenera. All challenges have a level between 1 and 8. The level determines the target number a player must roll against on any action.
All monsters simply have a name and a level equal to the challenge level of the monster. You don't have to write out any stats. You simply say "level 4 ogre" or "level 2 rat horde" or "level 5 pit fiend". The name acts as the monster's aspect and tells you everything you need to know to run the monster at the table. It also means its very easy to convert monsters from other systems. The term "horde" also has a specific meaning in Dungeons of Fate, defining a horde of monsters all piled in a single stat block. This term also triggers off of certain stunts like "cleave" to give the feeling of hacking down multiple enemies in a single swing.
The level of a monster determines the number of stress boxes a monster has. A level 5 monster, for example, has five stress boxes able to absorb 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 stress respectively. When a PC tries to attack this monster, it must beat a 5. When that monster attacks, the PC must defend against an attack of 5. GMs can use Fate points to increase the level by 2 for an action but generally, they're going against the exact level of the monster.
Complicated traps or even delicate social situations can have the same level system. A heated debate with a king might have a level of 4 with four stress boxes and a default score of 4 for the purposes of overcoming, attacking, or defending. A powerful rune-encrusted fire pillar trap might have a level of 3, with three stress boxes and a default of 3 for attacks, defenses, and overcome actions. This level-based challenge system is similar to the D&D 4e skill challenge system but are much easier to run.
Levels have a steep difficulty curve. Anything over a 3 is going to be tougher than a standard PC and level 6, 7, and 8 are going to be near impossible to beat. Level 8 is reserved for demi-gods, elder evils, and great old ones.
A level 3 monster is the typical equivalent of a PC. A level 4 monster is roughly equivalent to two PCs. A level 5 monster is a good single challenge for four or five PCs. A level 6 monster will be very hard for a group to defeat.
Magic in Dungeons of Fate is handled like any other action. The player describes the spell and the GM determines the difficulty. This means there's no reason a wizard PC cannot call down a meteor swarm or cast "power word kill" if they want, but it's still an Intelligence roll versus the level of the monsters. Many spells use the Create an Advantage action.
Creating an Advantage generally has a challenge level of 2. This prevents players from being punished for not Creating the right sort of Action to reach a challenge level of 2. Advantages created in this manner generally do not persist from scene to scene and a PC can generally only maintain one advantage at a time. This prevents players from stacking up dozens of advantages and trucking them around between scenes.
The GM never rolls the dice in Dungeons of Fate. Players always roll to Attack, Defend, Overcome, or Create an Advantage against the level of the challenge whether that challenge is a monster, a trap, or a situation.
The GM guidelines of Dungeons of Fate includes a GM worksheet and a bunch of random tables to make it easy for the GM to build improvised dungeons, quests, monsters, and NPCs. It's designed around the core ideas of the Lazy Dungeon Master.
Dungeons of Fate is intended to make it easy to run a quick and fun D&D game that feels like the classic D&D we remember of old. Printed two-sided, the GM rules and GM worksheet take up only a single page. Every character sheet can have full character creation guidelines printed on the back. It's designed to be a perfect companion for your GM Walk Away Kit.
If you enjoyed this article, you might enjoy the Lazy Dungeon Master and Sly Flourish's Fantastic Locations. You can also support this site by using these links to purchase the D&D Starter Set, Players Handbook, Monster Manual, or Dungeon Master's Guide.