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Friday, 18 January 2013

FATE of the Earthdawn: Part One

With the FATE core kickstarter underway (here) there are a whole group of folks coming up with some great conversions of existing settings and an active community sharing ideas on how to make things happen the FATE way. I love Earthdawn and FATE so I'm working on converting that setting. 


My intention with this project is to take the best bits of FATE and Earthdawn and fuse them together to make slicker, more narrative experience that still retains its unique Earthdawn flavour.

Circles, Talents and Skills

In Earthdawn a lot of the mechanics are linked strongly to in game concepts that affect the characters in material ways. The most obvious of these is the Discipline Circle which has genuine in game currecy compared to more traditional level based approaches. Circles are akin to belts or dan in a martial art and therefore mean something to PC and NPC alike.

Each Discipline has its own talent tree. In FATE parlance talents are part skill and part stunt. Note though that that some talents have mundane skill equivalents but the cost of developing skills in Earthdawn is relatively high compared to talents.

As talents are the essence of the Earthdawn character we will use them in place of FATE skills and leave the mundane skills to one side. These will be the province of non-adept NPCs.

Character creation:

Five Aspects, pretty much the same as in FATE core.

1) Core Aspect should follow the pattern {something} {Race} {Discipine} e.g. Acrobatic T’Skrang Taildancer or Small but Mighty Windling Warrior

2) Trouble

3) Phase one – your story

4) Phase two – guest starring…

5) Phase three – guest starring redux

Non Human Characters have their refresh reduced by one for Dwarves, Orcs and T’Skrang and by two for Obsidimen, Windlings and Trolls. This offsets racial stunts that cover the abilities they have.


As noted earlier, each discipline has its own list of talents, which are function mostly as described in the Earthdawn book. These should form a pyramid of three at average (+1), two Fair (+2) and one good (+3). This is a bit less than core but Earthdawn characters will end up with more skills at a cap of (+5) as the characters progress

If you are a magic user then one of your skills will likely be a spell matrix. These are extras with a two-box stress track and can take a single minor consequence. You’ll also start the game with five spells from circle 1 for your discipline. Doesn’t cost anything for these, it would be like charging for each recipe you knew for a cooking skill.

Durability & Stress

Earthdawn characters are quite physically durable and have 5 physical stress boxes plus a number of stress boxes equal to their durability talent rating. Unlike FATE core these are one point stress boxes.

Mental attacks in Earthdawn cause physical damage so physical stress.

Many talents in Earthdawn are about gaining social advantage over others particularly if you are a troubador, these affect your mental stress track which is a three by one point track.

Still only three consequence slots each though.


Earthdawn characters are epic and spend karma or fate points like water. They have a refresh equal to five (minus one or two if they are non-humans – see above). Thanks to some great feedback from the FATE Core G+ community karma ritual is removed from the skill list and it is assumed that at you perform your karma ritual and gain your refresh automatically, unless for story reasons you can't. For example you might be left tied up at the cliffhanger end of the previous session and so unable to do your karma ritual. However, when your allies free you in the first passage of play next session you can perform the ritual and gain your refresh as normal.


Regular items are regular. I bundle them together as kits for simplicity sake. So having a thieves kit, for example gives a plus 1 or 2 to a test to pick locks or jemmy windows etc. depending on quality.

Legendary items are treated as characters with each aspect discovered (key knowledge in Earthdawn speak) unlocking a skill bonus or other stunt.


As written, Earthdawn characters get a fixed number of recovery tests per day to recover from injury. Again this helps to makes vanilla Earthdawn characters fairly bomb proof but the extra stress boxes from durability pretty much have this covered so there's no analogue for this mainly for game balance as it would undermine the worth of consequences and make for a less interesting game.

Next post:
More exposition on talents/skills
Sample characters

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