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Classes
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Specialist Classes
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GM Information

"As the gamemaster, it’s your job to decide how everyone and everything else in the world responds to what the PCs do, as well as what the PCs’ environment is like. If a PC botches a roll, you’re the one who gets to decide the consequences. When an NPC attempts to assassinate a PC’s friend, you’re the one who gets to decide how they go about it. When the PCs stroll up to a food vendor in a market, you get to decide what kind of day the vendor is having, what kind of personality he or she has, what’s on sale that day. You determine the weather when the PCs pull up to that dark cave." - FATE SRD on Playing the World and the NPCs
Oh boy. You're the GM. The whole world is in your hands, and that means work. It also means that these sections are going to be written more informally. After all, you and I are on a level playing field now. The players follow the rules, but you make the rules. That means you can pick and choose out of the pile of stuff I've typed out on this website. You like the Aspect system from FATE Core? Houserule it back in. Hate how combat works? Build your own system. That's what I did.

FATE Core is simpler than systems like Pathfinder in some respects, but harder in others. There are fewer rules to remember (like knowing what each and every spell does), which is nice. However, there are fewer rules, which means you will be doing more improv. One of your players is going to ask you if they can make a fire sword with their fire magic. You're going to have to decide if they can. Will you make them roll for it? Is it even possible? Can they take a stunt for it later? The judgment call is yours.

I designed FATE Spin to be easier on GM's than FATE Core. The goal was for GM's to spend less time mucking through notes and more time playing the game. And you are playing the game, make no mistake. It's just a different game from the other players. You are a performer, here to make a magnificent show. Whether you use a detailed script or fill-in-the-blanks as you go is a choice.

But back to making your life easier. FATE Spin has a few rules that makes it different from FATE Core. These stem from house rules I'd developed while running other FATE games. You can find a complete list here, but below are the one's most relevant to GM's:

  • Aspects are gone. Everything beyond the High Concept and the Trouble has been done away with. Permission Cards take the place of aspects for Extras.
  • Fate Points are beefed up and simplified. Fate Points can be used to give any action a +2, declare that something exists, or convince the GM something goes your way (like not dying when you fell off that cliff). The GM does not have Fate Points, but powerful enemies do.
  • Character creation is more narrow. Players pick a class (which comes with stunts and a mostly finished skill set) and a Permission Card. A handful of classes allow players to build their own stunts, but the majority are prebuilt.
  • Concessions and Take Outs are the exception, not the rule. While the GM shouldn’t be trigger happy with players, she should keep them aware that death is a constant threat, and that fights are better handled with thought than firepower.
  • "Defender Wins" is the default. This is my personal preference for handling ties. Someone hiding in the shadows is "defending" so they win ties. Someone sneaking up on a guard is on the offensive, so they lose ties.
  • Narrative powers are (mostly) in the GM's hands. FATE Core encourages cooperative storytelling. FATE Spin leans towards traditional Game Mastering.

These exist because they match my style of GM'ing. They cut down on ambiguity while still leaving players a healthy amount of freedom (my justifications can be found here).

Being the GM

I'm going to cheat a little bit here. Instead of writing out my own manual for how to be a GM, I'm going to redirect you to FATE's manual. The advice is absolutely fantastic and I'm not up to the task of doing it better. Keep in mind that some of the rules (especially those related to aspects) may not apply to FATE Spin. They're good reads regardless.

I'd like to focus your attention on one section that has formed the cornerstone of my GM style: Discovery vs. Creation. My players have made the worlds I've put them in more fantastical than I alone ever could. They've invented minor magic systems, created political structures, and stumbled upon unforeseen conspiracies. Best of all, they think I planned it.

The Three Rules of FATE

As given by the sourcebook,

The Golden Rule- Decide what you're trying to accomplish first, then consult the rules to help you do it.

The Silver Rule- Never let the rules get in the way of what makes narrative sense.

The Bronze Rule- Anything can be treated as a character (aka the Fate Fractal).

And a bonus rule I'm fond of,

The Rule of Cool- The limit of the Willing Suspension of Disbelief for a given element is directly proportional to its awesomeness.

A Note on Balance

Balance is the idea that all player characters exist on a level playing field. No character is noticeably "better" than another or possesses an unfair advantage.

FATE Spin has some measures in place to establish balance, but it isn't intended to be a perfectly balanced game. Players will naturally rise and fall according to their skill at playing the game. Some will find magic items or make friends in high places, while others will try to play their thief like a warrior and wind up in some bad spots.

That's okay.

As the GM, your goal is to keep things fun. That has some overlap with keeping things balanced, but the two aren't identical. Imbalance, after all, is part of the fun. It adds to the chaos that separates a tabletop game from a video game. Your job is to keep the imbalance manageable so that all (or at least most) of the players are enjoying themselves.

Useful Info

This section contains useful information and tools for GM's.