Fate Core: GM Skills

Last week I spoke about Rob Donoghue’s GM approaches and using them to create NPCs in this post. I tried it out last weekend, but it didn’t work out so well on my side of things. The approaches he highlights are too broad in their application and too proactive. I found myself justifying, to myself, how a certain approach applies to this situation – and it’s way to easy for the GM to fudge that.

So, for this week’s playtest, I’ve decided to switch gears and try to use “GM skills” instead of approaches. These will be a small number of traits (5-8) that give context to a GM’s rolls. Ultimately, they should be reactionary in nature, or at least heavily detailed in that regard, since, in Fate, the PCs are the ones initiating the action.

Off the top of my head, here’s a list I’ll be revising for this week’s game. (I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.)

  • Battle. Proactively, use this to have your NPCs try to attack or create advantages related to tactical advantage or minor set-backs on the PCs, as well as overcome advantages created by PCs. Reactively, use this to defend against PC attack and create advantage actions.
  • Social. Proactively, use this to create advantages or attack the PCs through provocation and coercion, and to overcome advantages created by PCs. Reactively, use this to defend against the PC’s attempts to create advantages or attack in social situations.
  • Deceive. Proactively, use this to create advantages on the plot, or by NPCs, meant to mislead the players. Reactively, use this to defend against PC attempts to solve a mystery or discover a hidden NPC, object or other thing of importance.
  • Environment. Proactively, use this to create advantages and attack the PCs through the environment (natural disasters, traps, etc.). Reactively, use this to defend against PC overcome attempts.

While writing those, I got an idea to use the four actions (Overcome, Create Advantage, Attack and Defend) as the base actions, and then create the skills off of the context for them. That’s probably a cleaner method, and one I’ll be experimenting with as I revise these for this week’s game.

Meanwhile, do any of you have ideas on better GM skills, a different list or how they might be created? Let me know in the comments below.


1 comments On Fate Core: GM Skills

  • I’m working on a game that uses FAE approaches and the four actions but for a very different dice mechanic to the point it can no longer be considered Fate. I’ve been inspired by your view on GM approaches and skills, and come up with this take:

    Investigate: the equivakent of your lore
    Explore: the same as yours
    Harm: the equivalent of combat
    Interact: same as yours
    Cast: concerning magic and use of powers
    Infiltrate: equivalent of Rob’s escalation. When the pcs are trying to avoid escalation. Could ve considered under explore, but I wanted to separate engaging with the environment for purposes of reaching a goal, and avoid consequences. Do I kick down the door to get to the other side (explore) or do I want to pick the lock to avoid alerting the guards (infiltrate).

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