Fate Accelerated: I Don’t Like Spam!


I like Fate Accelerated. I really do. Hell, I’ve made two Fate World settings using it, and will likely make my third setting FAE too. That being said, it’s not perfect.

Sidenote: If it’s not perfect, why do I play it? To paraphrase Winston Churchill, “[Fate] is the worst form of [RPG], except for all the others.”

The best part of FAE is that there is always another way to skin a cat; if a party’s sorcerer has to leave the game early because they have work in the morning, you’re not suddenly stuck with a group incapable of overcoming the magic door down the hall; through cleverness, careful study, or barbaric vandalism, they will find a way.


Yum. I think. Conflicted.

The evil flip-side to this is that whenever you want to encourage a player to approach a problem from one of their lesser approaches, someone will insist that they can use their strongest approach; this frequently called “spamming.”  While they mean well, these sophisters will turn every turn into a drawn out negotiation, which can kill the mood and drag the evening out. Of course, the GM could always say “No, you have to use this approach,” but that’s against the spirit of FAE, and saying “No” leads to an unfriendly atmosphere (one of my very first entries discussed how much a GM should say “yes.”)

Evil Hat’s Zen Master of Fate Rob Donogue has proposed some ways to get around this on his blog, The Walking Mind, but I thought I’d try one or two ideas of my own:

Option 1: the Permission Aspect

If a player wants to use an approach that doesn’t seem obvious Require a “Permission aspect” first. This will likely be a situation aspect. If they already have a character aspect, require that they invoke it (which gives them the ability to use the approach AND the invoke bonus).

Ex. Chartok, Marna, and Phil all want to attack the a vicious ingredient in Kitchen Arena, the Monstercheese. Chartok’s player wants to charge straight in using Forceful, while Marna’s player wants to use Clever, and Phil’s player wants to use Sneaky. The GM sees no trouble with Chartok using the Forceful approach to make a raw attack, but feels that using Clever or Sneaky is less justified in this instance. The GM requests they get permission aspects first: a rational person like Marna wouldn’t charge in blindly, but if zhe spends an exchange looking for a weapon first (create an advantage for a Giant Cheese Machete), zhe could attack with Clever during any later exchanges. Similarly, a sneaky attack from Phil out of nowhere seems forced, but if Phil’s player spends a fate point to invoke his aspect “Born in Shadows,” the GM will let him use Sneaky to attack (and also gets the +2 invoke bonus). The GM is feeling generous, and decides these invokes are enough to let them use those approaches for the rest of the scene, or until it no longer makes sense (ex. Marna loses the Cheese Machete; Phil uses Flashy to draw attention to himself.)

If the player has a weapon that’s also a stunt, which is tied to a specific approach (ex. The Bow in in Masters of Umdaar using Quick), then the character can always use that weapon to attack; however, they can only use it whenever it seems right for the weapon (ex. Can’t use the bow in close combat), and only if they possess the weapon (ex. They haven’t been disarmed).

Option 2: Critical Hit

If players don’t like the stick, give them the carrot! Whenever a character makes an attempt with an Approach that is Fair +1 or lower and succeeds, automatically treat the result as success with style. Thus, they have a lower chance of success, but a higher gain should they pull it off. A GM might offer this all the time, but it seems better to me as a bargaining chip.

Player: I don’t want to use Forceful to attack, I want to use Quick, it’s higher!
GM: Okay, but if you hit with Forceful, I’ll give you a Critical Hit bonus…


Which option sounds better to you? Tell us what you think!

Until next week, GAME ON!


Image Citation:

Spam image courtesy of Father.Jack from Coventry, UK, Transferred from Flickr by User:Fæ. Used with permission through Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Neither licensor nor the Spam corporation endorses this blog or its use.



Masters of Umdaar – Bonus Content


PHEW! Mean a busy few weeks. In the last two weeks, I’ve closed a successful Kickstarter, moved to a new apartment, and had my first game, Masters of Umdaar, published by Evil Hat. I’m astounded by all of the great support I’ve had for all three of the above (especially the moving… those bookshelves are heavy.)

Art by Tazio Bettin & Enrica Eren Angiolini. Image owned by Evil Hat LLC, used without permission.

In all of the excitement, I haven’t had much time to write content this game blog. However, I’ve struck upon a great idea: I’ll share with the interwebs some of the bonus Umdaar material that didn’t make the final cut.

(I don’t want to call this the “Director’s Cut,” because that implies that the editorial staff of Evil Hat where viciously changing things against my approval; quite the opposite. Their critiques were constructive, and they made sure that they knew I was ultimately in charge of the product; they helped me to create one of the best works I’ve ever done. However, I had huge difficulty with keeping to the small page count, which meant there were many things that I wish we had space for.)

Enjoy the bonus material!

Tables of Tables

In the early drafts, one goal for “Umdaar” was to have an instant Unplanned Adventure. Players could spend 5 minutes on character creation, and the GM, with a slew of randomly generated names and monsters, could create a setting in less than 15 minutes. (An ambitious dream, I know.) However, it was decided to include more pre-made material (like the “Starblades of Su’ul” adventure), and to par down the GM material a bit. Thus, it’s no surprise that the bonus content is entirely tables.


A generator for creating random PC or NPC names. Foll 4dF twice, once for the prefix (top half), and once for the suffix (bottom half).

—- Naga-
Shiro- Vir-
Exa- Kan- Wego-
Moor- Zy- Thal- Kaji-
0 <row 1> Slee- Myr- Arco- Or- P’Taq-
0 + ++ +++ ++++
0 -Da -Ra -Thar -Daar -Ak
-Seez -Gon -Star -Caya
-Tron -Lock -Uu  
-T’zo -Kor      
—- -Graz        


During character creation, players are encouraged to create a name for their Bioform or their home nation. This can be done one of two ways:

Free-form – Create the name yourself, based on the bioform type. For example, if you are a “Manta” person, feel free to call your bioform the “Mantiards” or simply the “Mantamen.”

Name Generator – Use the Name chart above, but also roll for a random suffix from the Bioform Name Suffix Chart below, and add them together. Ex. Names “Arco” + “-T’zo”, plus the Bioform Suffix “-Ani” = the tribe of Arcot’zoani. (If the result is too long, just use the Name Prefix and the  Bioform Suffix, such Arcoani)

0 + ++ +++ ++++
0 -ocks -iards -en -ols -ri
-ors -ons -als -dja
-ani -ians -ites  
-ans -icans      
—- -um        


Use the Title Generator below to create the Master’s title. Alternatively, you can use the Name Creator from the character section, or put the two together—ex. NagTaal the Lifetaker.

Foll 4dF twice, once for the prefix (top half), and once for the suffix (bottom half).

—- Mask-        
Fear Hope      
Bone World Gold    
Life Skull Mind  Slave  
0 God Light Blood War Lore
   0 + ++ +++ ++++
0 King/ Queen Monger Tyrant Hoarder Berserker
 Lord Taker Grinder Twister  
-Lock Raker Crusher    
Razer Breaker      
—- Destroyer        

Note: Hope & Light?

On the chart above, it is possible to end up with titles like “Hopelord.” You can reroll, but we suggest you go with it- no doubt the Master is a charismatic leader, who is worshiped by his oppressed subjects as a demigod!


In the first few drafts, “Umdaar” was more about the geography- the artifacts were more of a by-product of exploring, rather than the motivation. Thus, there were also random tables for creating wild biomes, AKA the Wildlands (although they work for Dark Domains as well); likewise, there was also generators for Midway points, and for buried structures or evil lairs waiting for them- this was called the Final Destination.


Foll 4dF twice, once for the prefix (top half), and once for the suffix (bottom half).

—- The Midnight
The Shrapnel The Bone
The Star The Sludge The Subterranean
The Blood The Crystal The Psycho The Sky
0 The Time The Poison The Fire The Ice The Sunken
0 + ++ +++ ++++
0 Ruins Caves Swamps Cliffs Sea
Forests Mountains Sands Highlands
Tundras Jungles Islands  
Oasis Plains      
—- Pass        


Going through a Wildland without any incident is boring. Thus, we had a Midway generator; they are intentionally generic, so they could be dressed up to match any location. Some of them provide obstacles, while others provide “window dressing” for a character conflict (rather than having a scene take place in a vacuum).

  0 +
The Crossroads – Where two paths intersect. A place of detours, losing your way, and highwaymen. The Fortification – A man-made barricade, a roadblock, or proper fort. You must deal with the defenders, or physically overcome it. The High Ground – Before you is higher ground, granting anyone on it a tactical advantage. Alternates: Dunes, Barrow Mounds.
0 The Ruins – A cluttered area, rife with hiding places, forgotten artifacts, and sleeping dangers. The Fertile Ground- A blooming place in a hostile land, and an ironic place to be threatened. I.e. oasis, watering hole, mushroom grove, hot spring. The Shelter – A small shelter stands, bowing under the weight of the elements. Perhaps a resilient occupant still resides there. I.e. A camp, covered wagon, shack, hovel.
+ The Pass – Before you lies a natural path or bridge that must be traversed if you are to proceed. I.e. across a gorge, river, through a reef, a mountain pass. The Fog – An area where the senses are dulled, and teams can easily become separated. I.e. a dark bog, a misty rainforest, a sandstorm, a smoky lava field. The Obstruction – A terrain feature that cannot simply be walked around it- takes active effort to overcome. I.e. swimming a lake, scaling a cliff-face, climbing the massive trees.


Foll 4dF twice, once for the prefix (top half), and once for the suffix (bottom half).

—- The City        
The Temple The Labyrinth       
The Cathedral The Fortress The Forge    
The Prison The Crypts The Library The Castle  
0  The Factory The Pit The Tower The Dungeons The Coliseum
  0 + ++ +++ ++++
0 of the Fallen Goddess of Plague  of Cursed Wisdom of Despair of Eternal Life
of the Starfarers of Madness of Shadows of Mutation  
of the Nameless God of Screams of Torment    
of Gold of Forbidden Joy      
—- of Eternal War        


The last worthy bit of content cut from Umdaar was the Adventure Generator, but that is long enough that it warrants a blog post of its own. Until then, readers, game on!