Tempting Fate with FATE Dice in D&D

Recently on Twitter, I saw a Tweet from Mike Mearls on the topic of Using Fate Dice in a game of D&D. The idea was to allow players to tempt the fates for luck. His example in the game he ran was this.

House rule I used in AD&D this last weekend: Get a big pile of FATE dice, d6s with two blank sides, two with plus signs, two with a minus. At any time, a player can tempt fate and roll the whole mess of them. More pluses, something good happens, more minuses, something bad happens Literally works for almost any RPG ever invented, so how is that for platform-independent design? Best sequence was a horrid role leading to the party stumbling across a huge guard patrol, and then a crazy good role leading to the guards mistaking the PCs for new recruits.

Now, this got me thinking about how I might use a rule like this at my table. Essentially it is just the implementation of a narration dice into your game. This mechanic has existed in one form or another in several tabletop games over the years. They are an excellent tool to add a bit of creativity and storytelling into even in the simplest of dice rolls that occur at the table. In many RPGs like the newest edition of Star Wars, narration dice have been implemented wonder into their games.

My Take on the Idea

Use one Fate dice along with all your D20 rolls. You could use it as a narration aid. The blank = result as expected, on D20 + = Something beneficial in addition to dice result. A – = Something Negative occours. 

So my thought process on the topic is this. When you want to add a mechanic to your game you need to take into account a few things.

  • Will it improve an aspect of your game?
  • Is there already a rule that exists for this?
  • Is this a needed rule?


A narration or fate dice might improve aspects of your game if you as a GM like prompts of this type to help you add a deeper element to your game. There really are no rules that exist at this time that could do it better. Lastly, if you want to add more narration elements to your game then the could be an easily adopted rule.  Just remember when you want to insert new mechanics like this into your game.  You need to make sure it adds to the game and does not complicate or slow the game down.  This is the reason why I would choose not to roll a handful of dice but just one FATE die with a D20.  

Do you think this could help your game? Could you see your group adopting something like this at your table?

If using FATE dice in your D&D game is going too far, or not far enough.. Give a look at my mini review of FATE Freeport!

FATE Freeport My Impressions & a Mini Review


  1. I can see how this would be a fun implementation, I wonder how you would combine 1 fd with 1d20 maybe using it as a push your luck modifier to the d20? if only using fd you would need to roll at least 4 to get a majority everytime, so that’s where the handful comes from, i can definitely see value to the game if you have the right group


    • I can see it both ways. by using only one Fate dice along with a D20 you are using it more as a narration tool. Much like if you have ever rolled a D20 with a Hit location Dice at the same time. In the later you would simply declare I rolled an 18 to hit him in the leg with an arrow. Thus adding some RP element but nothing more.

      That same D20 with a the Single Fate Dice might be used something like. I rolled an 18 with a -. The DM declares that you indeed struck him and the jaring force of the blow sends sharp tingles up your arm form the strike. Thus only adding a story element.

      Now in the case where maybe you want to call on the Fates you I could see you picking up the 3 other FD and rolling them as normal FD. Then the more positive or negative results you would get would have a larger impact of real in-game effects.

      I would be tempted to limit the number of times a session a player could “Call on the Fates” if I were going to run it in this manner.

      Thanks for the Commnet!


      • well its not really need in D&D you have a DC you are trying to reach so based off how close or how far you are from that DC your character can narrate it success, failure or somewhere in between. Rogue picking a lock, They have the d20+skill+dex to determine that roll well they miss the dc by 8 critical failure. As an example:

        Rogue:Turns and looks at the other behind him with a worrisome look Guys I broke my lock-pick off in the lock.

        Fighter: Get a scowl on his face and attempts to kick the door in. (he rolls his dice to see how well he does

        Fate dice is a neat idea, I just think it an unnecessary dice roll when there is something in place already. Currently I am thinking of trying Fate Core at the table just to see how it goes.


        • This is pretty much what I have done and continue to do over the years as a DM. I did make an interesting blog to write and I like and appreciate that the developers of the game are sharing some outside of the box thinking.

          Fate Core is a lot of fun but it requires a considerable amount of heavy lifting on the DM side of the house to get the framework of the game you are going to run up.. But after that it is a very easy system to run.

          I hope you enjoy it!


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