Fate Core: A New Stunt Rubric

Yesterday, I posted about how to use Cortex+ as an inspiration for new aspect uses, today, as promised, comes a new stunt rubric: using triggers as a means of creating stunts in Fate Core.

In my experience with Fate Core, the place that players always get caught up with is in the creation of stunts. They just aren’t sure what they should be able to do, and when they figure that out they don’t know how it should be done. Fate is one of those games where you can do pretty much anything, and there are as many ways of doing the same thing as there are things to do. Triggers offer a codified method for creating stunts that remove the confusion of coming up with stunts and simultaneously balance them against others, ensuring that no one player has that broad stunt that slipped through.

Trigger Stunts

Just like in Cortex+, you create your trigger stunts by selecting a drawback and linking it to a benefit. You can’t just port over the selections from Cortex+, as they deal heavily with the step dice mechanics that system uses. Instead, we need to adapt the selections to Fate Core.

Here’s an example:


  • Check a stress box (or accept a consequence)
  • Give an NPC a boost
  • Invoke an aspect
  • Spend a fate point
  • Limit frequency (scene or session)
  • Predetermined self-compel (don’t gain a fate point, equivalent to a narrow circumstance)


  • Declare a story detail
  • Make a rules exception
  • Gain a boost
  • Substitute one skill for another
  • Affect an entire zone
  • Change a stress hit to a consequence

Declaring a story detail allows you to do something like declaring you know someone in a location or you have an item secreted away on your person. Making a rules exception would require a bit more work, but there is plenty of inspiration in the books. As long as you follow the rules for making rules exceptions (can’t change the fate point economy or when and how aspects can be invoked) you should be fine.

Adjusting Costs
In essence, drawbacks are simply costs (see Succeeding at Cost, Fate Core). You can look at the costs to find more options, and use serious costs for those rules exceptions you feel to be too powerful (or just do away with the rules exception option altogether, expand the options for benefits to the rules exceptions you’re comfortable with and keep your life simple).

If a player designs a benefit that seems too powerful (usually a declaration of a story detail or rules exception), GMs are within their rights to ask for two drawbacks instead of just one.


After some requests, here are a few example stunts using this rubric.

Devastating Side Kick. Once per session, when an opponent would fill in their 2-stress box, I can change it to a mild consequence instead.

The Power of Money. When I invoke Make it Rain, everyone in the zone must succeed at a Fair +2 overcome action or dive for my paper.

Sword of Truth. When my coveted sword is recognized for what it is (self-compel, the sword is famous and everyone wants to steal it), I can spend a fate point to substitute Will for Fighting for the rest of the scene.

The sword of truth gives a hell of a bonus, completely replace Fighting with Will. But that is offset by the GM requiring two drawbacks for it.

What do you think? Refining this concept (designing the options to make them just right for your game) would allow players to create stunts in moments while  keeping much of the versatility of Fate Core stunts and avoiding the long lists seen in SotC. The best of both worlds!


    1. Agreed. Except that Stunts don’t require the ‘drawback’ in quite the same way. Their drawbacks are more directed towards limiting how often it can be used, mostly, but these are great drawbacks to use, too.
      I’m actually surprised that the creators of Fate didn’t provide a more concrete system like this as a helper; they’re usually pretty good about that.



      1. The choice of using examples over concrete methods was one of the things that rubbed me the wrong way, too. But I think it comes from SotC, where people balked at huge lists of stunts.

        Still, though, Bulldogs! has a great rubric that makes it very clear what you can create…


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