Fate Core: Writing Adventure Fractals Part 3

Yesterday, we discussed a revision to the previously created adventure fractals. Today, I’d like to delve into a thorough method of writing these adventure sheets to help GMs fly through the process.

Writing an Adventure

Writing an adventure shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes, assuming you already know what the story will be about.

First, you need a goal. What is it the PCs want? How will you make it inevitable that they will travel toward that goal (if it isn’t, they may decide not to partake in the adventure at all)? Once you know the goal, decide whether or not they’ll obtain their goal – “maybe” is a sufficient answer here, relying on the PCs to determine success or failure on their own. It isn’t necessary that they will, however, as failure leads to more adventures.

Scene List
Once you have your goal, work backwards to create the scene list – scenes are where players get to play, without them, you have no game.

What steps will the players need to take to achieve their goal? To bring a killer to justice, they might first have to discover his whereabouts, which requires discovering who he is, which may require questioning witnesses and following clues, which requires investigating the crime scene, which requires being alerted to the crime.

Read that backwards and you have your scene list: hear about the crime, investigate the scene, talk to witnesses/follow clues, discover the killer’s identity, discover his whereabouts, take him down. While reading that you might decide, like I just did, to increase the tension somewhere in the middle. Maybe a witness turns up dead, too – or a fight ensues between a masked killer and the PCs as they arrive just before a witness is murdered. This is logical, as the killer would want to throw off the investigation.

Important Note: No plan survives contact with the PCs. If the scene’s don’t go in perfect order, that’s okay. Maybe the PCs manage to skip a scene through ingenuity, or make a scene irrelevant, or create a new scene by following some tangent they came up with. Go with it! You can always bring them back on track, or modify a previous scene on the fly to create the new scene.

Adventure Aspects
Now you can come up with your adventure aspects. Write two for each scene: one for the location/setting, and one for the obstacle the PCs will face. You can write more than these, but include at least these two.

Adventure Skills
Now that you know what the adventure is going to be about, look at the four adventure skills and determine which ones will be used more often, those should be your Hard and Average skills. Give each skill a rating for this adventure. This is what you’ll be rolling for every NPC or setting element that comes into play against the PCs.

Record your vitals (stress and consequences), keeping in mind how many PCs are going to play in the adventure to figure how many bonus vitals you get.

NPCs and Stunts
Finally, go through your obstacles (one of the aspects you created for each scene) and create one or more stunts to represent that obstacle with reliable mechanical effects.


That’s it! You have your completed adventure ready to share with your players. Don’t forget to roll with their punches, er…ideas, and keep things fluid. Like most good outlines, this one is subject to change at a moment’s notice. Don’t force the issue of your perfectly devised plans. If the PCs get off track, find a way to get them back to their goal – the reason it was inevitable/imperative that they obtain it is a good motivator to get them back on track.

This system seems fairly self-explanatory to me, but I’ve received a few questions about it in social media. Let me know in the comments below if you’re interested in seeing an example of play using this system. I’ll try to write one up (maybe even create a video) to demonstrate the finer points.


After some demand, here is an example built using this method.


  1. This looks great. I’d love to see an actual play example of a scene, to give an idea of how this communal stress functions in the field, as well as a demonstration of how Consequences are used in this setup.



    1. That’s exactly right.

      Every adventure gets the same skills, but in different ratings (note that the suggested ratings here are too difficult, I’ve found).

      Rate the most important element of the story (represented by adventure skill) equal to the players’s apex skill. Then, apply two skills at one step lower than that that are kind of important and the final skill at two steps lower (which sets it as an average for most of the skills the players will roll).

      Finally, use aspects and stunts to differentiate scene elements, which includes NPCs.

      For instance, an adventure might have Combat as the apex Skill that involves the Juggernaut attacking the PCs. Juggs also has The Unstoppable Juggernaut! as an aspect. Then add Super Strength. +2 Combat when Attacking and +2 Exploration when lifting or preventing movement. And Unstoppable. You can move from one zone to another without being hindered by anything in the way (including PCs). This source of opposition is just off the table for you.

      Juggernaut may have more, but this assumes 3 PCs (note that his Super Strength counts as 2 stunts) on the generic scale. Not that you have to use that.

      The next scene might feature an social scene against Mystique while the PCs try to interrogate her for information. She might be an easy target, though, since the GM already set the apex skill for this adventure to Combat. That’s how you declare what’s important to the adventure. If taking out Juggernaut was meant to be a short scene to move on to the juicy interrogation (where maybe Wolverine gets to play with Provoking a little fear with his claws), then you wouldn’t make Combat the apex skill.

      Whatever has the higher GM skill rating, the longer those scenes are going to take, means greater focus.

      You could reset at every refresh, if you wanted only segments of adventures to be heavy on one thing, but I feel the whole adventure needs to maintain a certain tone. Otherwise it feels like you’re all over the place.

      Does that help you grasp it?



      1. Thanks, it helps a lot.
        But I have another question that I don’t grasp…
        If you choose combat-apex and set the difficult to apex+2, then add stunts and aspects…how can te players beat the adventure?
        If I understand correctly, the characters must have stunts that allow them to equalize their options, use other skills to create advantages, etc…
        So the adventure finish more like “preparing for dificulties”, so they have possibilities of beating them.
        Don’t get me wrong…I like your ideas, actually are the basis for three adventures that I’m preparing.


      2. Actually, play tests have proven that these skill rankings are too high. I suggest the following:

        Rate the most important element of the story (represented by adventure skill) equal to the players’s apex skill. Then, apply two skills at one step lower than that that are kind of important and the final skill at two steps lower (which sets it as an average for most of the skills the players will roll).

        Stunts denote specific instances that are supposed to be DIFFICULT obstacles in the characters’s way. If they are not meant to be a major obstacle in the scene, just give them aspects (or stunts that don’t add a bonus, but break the rules instead).

        For example, minions should have an aspect or two, and maybe a stunt that allows them to break the rules (like attacking a whole zone because there’re so many of them). While a major villain or obstacle will have a stunt that grants a +2 to one of the skills (if the apex skill, it’s a major obstacle for the adventure, since it’ll be +6 or higher).


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