The Fate system is largely inspired by games like Action! and Spirit of the Century. It’s a way to have a game system that can model normal NPCs and heroic PCs and NPCs at the same time. The high-level head priest may have great knowledge, but he can’t swing on chandeliers, or beat impossible odds, and a fall down the stairs will still kill him.
Fate points can be spent in many ways to emulate fictional heroes. They can boost rolls, allowing for the kinds of crazy feats heroes in books and movies are always pulling off. They can lower the rolls of enemies, taking the place of hitpoints by turning a hit into a near miss. And they can be spent long-term on Traits that define the character beyond the existing character mechanics. Traits are completely open-ended, allowing for the creation of almost any kind of character.
How to Use with m20:
Fate points mostly replace hitpoints. Fate is spent to dodge attacks, hitpoint damage only happens when Fate is depleted. Spend Fate for spellcasting instead of hps.
Start with 6 Fate points.
Whenever a character gains an additional 6 Fate points they also gain another level. With the DM’s permission, you can invest Fate points to buy your character new Traits when their level increases. Invested Fate points cannot be spent during play, nor can they be recovered. A character may relinquish a Trait at any time if the DM agrees, immediately freeing thost Fate points. Gaining a level does not grant additional hitpoints.
Spending Fate in Play
Heroism: a character can spend Fate to increase or decrease any roll after it has been rolled, up to their level in points. Each point spent raises or lowers the roll by 1. Attacks may be dodged by lowering the attack roll.
Plot Twist: spend 2 Fate points to change the plot in some minor way. The DM must approve of any plot twists and is free to alter the plot twist or introduce unexpected complications.
If a character is about to die, and the player and the DM agree, they may immediately regain all of their Fate points, and be allowed to use Heroism again if it’s already been used this encounter. When this happens, the PC will die by the end of the encounter, nothing can prevent it.
At the end of each successful encounter, all characters regain thier level in Fate points. The DM can restore lesser amounts of Fate points at any time, for exceptional actions by characters or players, minor accomplishments, or when they inflict something especially unpleasant on the characters.
Any time the PCs are “off screen” for a long time, the DM may determine a Refresh has occurred, and all Fate pools reset to normal.
Gaining Permanent Fate
A character’s Fate pool can be increased by accomplishing major game goals. Each adventure should end with the characters gaining 1 Fate point. Very challenging or long adventures can have award one Fate point in the middle of the adventure, and one at the end.
Traits are features of a character not covered by other rules. They can be special abilities, resources, or even problems.
Standard Trait: a normal Trait gives a -1 discount on using Fate related to the Trait. The first point of Heroism is free if it is based on a Trait, Plot Twists cost 1 less, etc. The DM can invoke a Trait to give a -2 penalty to an action or score for one encounter, or to create a negative Plot Twist. When this happens the character that owns the Trait regains 1 Fate point.
Standard Traits are typically talents, used mostly for actions (blindfighting, smooth talker, natural leader), backgrounds used mostly for plot twists (noble blood, member of the Thieve’s Guild, hero of the people), or flaws used mostly to regain Fate easily (deformed, hunted by authorities, fear of crows).
Ranked Traits: each additional Fate point invested in a Trait raises it’s Rank by 1. Each additional rank grants another point of free Heroism. It also increases the penalty by 2 and restores 1 more Fate point when the Trait is invoked negatively by the DM.