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

GM Inspiration Dice & GM Compells House Rules

Today I decided to that I would like to share with you a favorite Homebrew Rule of mine for 5E D&D. This is a Homebrew rule that I developed because you see I love the Inspiration mechanic. Inspiration is simple and elegant in its both its intent and its use in the game. I have found that one constant with all players is that they love to roll dice. What is better than rolling one dice, rolling two! Inspiration is a wonderful carrot to encourage your players to roleplay and act on many or all of their background aspects.

As much as I love Inspiration, from the moment I read it I felt many GMs would miss the opportunity to not do more with this wonderful game enhancement. From the start, I feared that they would be treated more like Hero Points of old. Only to be used as a last ditch effort to pull one good roll and save a characters life. Sadly from what I have seen across many game tables. That is exactly how they are widely used by both players and GM’s alike.

Inspiration is a wonderful carrot to encourage your players to roleplay. Rewarding them for acting on many or all of their background aspects good or bad. In my opinion, inspiration was intended to be given fast and free to promote and reward roleplay. Hence why it is limited to only one point. When I look at how inspiration is written I think I see what the issue here might be. If you only focus on the first portion of the rule it sounds as if inspiration is given to you by the GM when you do something compelling or roleplay to one of your traits. Yet it goes on to say that the GM will tell you how you can earn Inspiration in the game. This is a key thing that I think may GM’s overlook.


Your GM can choose to give you inspiration for a variety of reasons. Typically, GMs award it when you play out your personality traits, give in to the drawbacks presented by a flaw or bond, and otherwise portray your character in a compelling way. Your GM will tell you how you can earn inspiration in the game. You either have inspiration or you don’t – you can’t stockpile multiple “inspirations” for later use.

The FATE system uses something very similar mechanic. Called Invoke and Compel. When a player wishes to gain the benefit of one aspect of their character they can invoke that characters Aspect. Much like inspiration they then gain a bonus to their next action. FATE then goes on to describe that the GM can also compel a player. If the FATE GM compels a player and they accept the compel they are given another FATE point (Inspiration) if they chose to accept on the compel. A player may choose not to act on a compel and play as they wish, but they will not get the FATE point.


If you’re in a situation where having or being around a certain aspect means your character’s life is more dramatic or complicated, anyone can compel the aspect. You can even compel it on yourself—that’s called a self-compel. Compels are the most common way for players to earn more fate points.


So my homebrew rewrite of Inspiration is not really needed but helps to make clear how Inspiration works in my game. Reads as follows.

Inspiration & Compelling.

The GM can choose to give you inspiration for a variety of reasons. Typically, GMs award it when you play out your personality traits, give in to the drawbacks presented by a flaw or bond, and otherwise portray your character in a compelling way.

If you’re in a situation where any of your traits make your character’s life more dramatic or complicated, anyone can compel the you. You can even compel it on yourself. Compels are the most common way for players to earn more insperation. You may refuse any Compel but you are not awarded inspiration if you do so.

You either have inspiration or you don’t – you can’t stockpile multiple “inspirations” for later use.

Even my rule say that you can not Stockpile inspiration. I still wanted to encourage my players to use their Inspiration often. It is often hard to pry that D20 out of their hands unless it is a clutch roll. That and I often find that I have given out inspiration for good roleplay and my players just can’t burn it fast enough.  Enter the GM inspiration Die

GM Inspiration Dice

If my players do something creative or commit an act of good RP.  I award them an Inspiration point. The trouble I had was that Often my players had Inspiration and I still want to give them something. After some thinking, I decided to do the following. This is also a nice little alternative for some of the GM’s out there that prefer using inspiration as a “Hero Point” The benefit is smaller but players seem more willing to burn it over Inspiration often.

  • If the player has no Inspiration. I reward them with an Inspiration point.
  • If the player has a point of Inspiration I award them a “GM Inspiration”.
  • “GM” inspiration dice is not a D20 with advantage. It is treated like a Bardic Inspiration dice. It can be used at any time to add to a D20 roll.
  • The GM Inspiration Die is a D6.
  • Players can be awarded more than one, but only one dice may be spent at a time.
  • Once used it is gone it’s only useable for one roll.

Lastly, GM inspiration dice go away at the end of a session. USE EM OR LOSE EM!


#RPGaDay2016 Day 12: What Game is your group most likely to play next? Why?


My group is ramping up to put the finishing touches on our 5E Out of the Abyss game in the next few months. After that game comes to a close it is looking solidly like we will be heading right back into another 5E D&D game set in my personal Homebrew world. The story that we will be undertaking in my personal setting is yet to be determined. So more on that another time.

So why 5E D&D and would I chose any other system ? Well, predominantly the overall favorite system for fantasy settings in our group of players is the still raining king Dungeons and Dragons. This still holds true with 5E, with only a brief delve into Pathfinder our group has for the most part just been hardcore D&D.

If I were to pick any other setting to run my game in I think it would be FATE, using the Freeport ruleset book as a template. I ran a very, very brief 3 sessions of my homebrew setting with the FATE Freeport ruleset and I simply loved it. It had an incredible old school feeling.

I also would say I would love to give a Cypher System fantasy game a try as well. I love the speed and simplicity of the GM’s workload in the Cypher System and the beauty of variety that the character creation and class system that the Cypher System has.

So there you have it. What systems are on your list of likely games that you and your players are going to get on the table soon ?

Cool character sheets

The other day I was looking at some awesome character sheets, Decided I wanted to share a few. Here are some sheets that not only look great but remain functional. In some cases like these the character sheet takes your player just a bit deeper into the game. Think of these as player props!

The first on here is a Cypher System RPG sheet done for a Mass Effect game. Done up to look like a data pad. I love this and after I finish up my current games. I might see if my players would be interested in a Mass Effect game. This sheet was made by Tensen01 over at deviantart

Mass Effect Cypher Sheet by Tensen01

This FATE RPG sheet just calls out to the kid in me for Star Wars. I found this over at the blog I waste Buddha with my crossbow The only thing that might make this better would be if it was printed out on hard card stock and you it had a miniatures case on the other side of the sheet when you hand it to me for game!

As I wanted to hit a wide range of sheets when I did this I game Savage Worlds a Look, I found this great Fallout Themed Sheet over at The Pot-Luck blog


Now these are all great and work wonderfully for themed games. But what if you are not running a themed game. Is there any hope for you to find a great sheet? Here are just a few. There are just so many great sheets out there to be found don’t settle for just a good sheet. Find yourself a great one!

Like this D&D sheet by Jon Grumph

I think just as is .. the Numenera Sheet is simply perfect for the system and it is a work of art all by itself. The Strange RPG had a very good sheet as well. Sadly I think because of its more Generic nature.. The Cypher System core sheet is sadly generic.. But this!

For some Truely awesome RPG Sheets check out my older blog from RPG a Day Coolest character sheet day 26. HERE.

Please feel free to comment and add more sheets that you love!

FATE Freeport My Impressions & a Mini Review

photoSo recently I dipped my feet into running FATE for the first time. After playing many sessions of FATE and three campaigns of the amazing Dresden Files RPG. So as I set to reading the FATE rules for the first time as a GM I began giving much thought on what kind of game and setting I wanted to run. I quickly picked up FATE Freeport and thumbed through it. It offered several things that I found appealing.

First of all it was as much like D&D as you were going to get. Now I did not set out thinking I was going to run D&D by another name. But for your first game of FATE D&D is about as old hat for me as I can get as I have been running it now off and on for 30 years.  The first thing I noticed with Freeport is how it was tooled to feel as much like an old school D&D game as they could make it.

With this set up the game immediately has an old school feel to it. If you want to leap over a table roll a Dex check.. need to shoot an apple off your friends head. Roll a Dex check it really takes calls to the heart of old school D&D.

Now FATE Freeport does not have classes but the use of High Concept like any other FATE CORE game. But this does not distract from its D&D feel in any way. In fact it frees the players up to be much more than just a class. Now they truly begin to take on the roll of a class instead of being confined within a class. Race is handled much the same way. If you want to be of a certain race you include that in your high concept.

Your Aspects are your catch-all. They are there so that you can further define your race or class, motivations. This gives the players a wide range of freedom that many players might not be used to in a Dungeons and Dragons style of game.

Stunts are a great way to emulate special abilities, feats, magical powers. You can also use them to represent spell-like abilities, or you can make up spells as well as use ones provided in the FATE Freeport book.

As to the game play, It moves fast and smooth like any other FATE game. And when you find yourself at the table regularly calling for skill rolls based on old school D&D attributes you really slide easily into the mindset that this is much like any other D&D RPG. But the difference here is that once you actually get into combat. Much like many FATE system games including Dresden files. In FATE Freeport one is not required to have a dedicated healer in a game unlike Dungeons & Dragons where one is indeed needed.

This makes for a refreshing element to your fantasy game. Suddenly everyone at the table is now free to make and play the character that they want. No one is stuck with the part’s proverbial “band-aid”.


For me the largest pro was the surprisingly old school feel I got from playing Fate Freeport. As well as the with the lack of emphasis of a need for a player to be a healer in system. This alone allows for far more versatility at the table. Now granted you will likely want some form of healing at the table. But there is no reason why any spellcaster could not  have a healing spell if they should choose to go down that route. After all this is FATE not D&D so you can decide at the table just who can or can not heal.

The FATE wound track system leaves you ripe for a more gritty compelling story with the potential of injury’s staying with players for more than a scene or two as well. This also bring us to Physical and Mental damage. You may have a player healthy as a horse but shaken out of his mind where this is not nearly as well represented in D&D.

Fate Freeport also has an intersting option for casters as well to help keep them in check at the table if you chose to add it to your game. It definitely feels more dark and Lovecraftian with it and Really helps knock home the Freeport setting. Taint: Corruption & Madness, This is a place where man is not meant to use magic and in choosing to do so comes at a hefty cost. These are not things that are taken lightly in the setting and help make the setting shine.


If I would say there is a con I would say the one true con of this setting book is that is just digest size and even at 185 pages this book could have been 100 pages more and you still will want more. The good news here is with FATE being such a flexible system. Pretty much any other Freeport resource you will find should be easily adaptable to this rule set. They even go so far as providing you examples of how to convert D20 based material to FATE.

My Ratting:

dice-d20-opaque2Simply put if you have played the FATE system and you enjoy Fantasy. You need this product and you should give it a play. If you have been looking to step away from the D20 system products yet still want to play in a fantasy setting that feels old school at its core. You need to get this system.

It’s tremendous that they took the time to help guide you in the process of converting other D20 source material for your Fate games. Simply put if you like FATE and you’re a fan of Freeport this is hands down a MUST OWN product.

I know Paizo put out a Freeport book recently or around the same time in hardback and color. If this would have had that extra production quality and been a full-sized color hardback with maps ( I know they offered a map in the KS) I would likely rank this book at a 19 or potentially a 20.

DTRPG  Fate Freeport

Amazon Fate Freeport

Evil Hat Productions Fate Freeport

#RPGaDay2015 Day 7 Favorite Free RPG

RPG a day 2015 - Twitter


FATE takes today’s question and for a good many reasons. Fate Accelerated is totally free and FATE Core is pay what you want. In addition the FATE SRD is elegant and awesome. If you have not looked at this site yet. Do yourself a favor and go take a look at how an awesome SRD should look. Check it out HEREaa8620bc760c3432a043d6d77e1fe23c_large


Not only does Fate do all these things right, With the System Toolkit you can run anything you can think of with the FATE rule. The only drawback of FATE. It’s almost too easy.

Star Trek FATE: Starfleet Academy and the Command Structure

Star Trek FATE is a perfect example of the FATE system doing what it does best. In a time when there really is not a good set of rules for a very impressive game genre. FATE flexes its muscles and shows off how much versatility it has.

Burn Everything Gaming

If you don’t know where to start, a good place is always the beginning.  The beginning for Star Trek is the Starfleet Academy.  Any non Vulcan or Vulcan/Human character starts the Academy at age 18 (18 skill points) and with a refresh of 3. Vulcans and Vulcan/Humans start the Academy at age 22 (22 skill points) and 5 Refresh.  While most fate games give you free choice as to what skills you can have and where, being in the Academy requires some skills to be at least at +1 (Average):

Minimum requirements to be in Starfleet Academy
These skills are required to be at a minimum of +1:

  • Physique
  • Scholarship
  • Discipline
  • Protocol

There is a link to a blank Cadet Character sheet

The first 2 years of the Academy are used to get players accustomed to the FATE system and understand how different conflicts, both physical and social, are done…

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