Okay, let’s talk about one of the most controversial, if not the most controversial, aspect of this game: The Fate Deck. I say it’s controversial because this version of the game received alot of criticism for not using dice. Most roleplayers love their dice, so to use a diceless system was a gamble.
Additionally, dice are easy to find and buy. One of the problems with the proliferation of this game beyond its support by Wizards of the Coast is that the average person cannot find the original Fate Deck anymore. People have proposed using amalgamations of normal playing cards for the pure numerical aspect of the Fate Deck, but there is much more on each card besides a number.
Each card has a number between 1 and 10, an aura (positive, negative or neutral), a calling and an associated event that matches the calling.
The original deck had 96 cards in it (four promotional cards were released later, bringing the total to 100).
There are five suits, corresponding to each of the four abilities (Strength, Agility, Intellect and Willpower), plus an extra suit called the Doom suit. The full deck contained 21 of each suit and 16 Doom cards.
The numerical distribution is as follows: 5 1s, 5 2s, 10 3s, 18 4s, 22 5s, 18 6s, 10 7s, 6 8s, 5 9s, 1 10, creating an approximate Normal distribution around 5. The average value is actually 5.08.
There are 30 positive auras, 40 neutral and 30 negative auras.
There are 24 different callings (4 of which are villainous).
The numerical value on each card was used in the resolution mechanics, which I’ll discuss in a later post.
The auras are used by the GM to make decisions that are arbitrary during the game. Did the car slide over the edge of the bridge after being thrown by The Abomination? Draw a card. It’s aura is negative. Oops, the car slides over! Time for the heroes to act. I feel this is a great and quick way to help GMs make decisions they may spend too much time stressing over. It keeps the game moving.
Also, each round PCs and NPCs have a chance to heal damage. If the GM draws a positive cards, the heroes heal. If negative, the villains heal. Otherwise, tough luck everyone!
The real magic of the Fate Deck, in my opinion, are the events listed on each. You can use the Fate Deck as inspiration during the game to liven up the session. For example, the heroes are doing research in the library, trying to figure out why Diablo stole a priceless urn. The players are flipping through their 4th Edition D&D books out of boredom. As a GM, you flip over a card and get the “Cry For Help” event. Thinking quickly, you announce that the heroes hear a cry for help coming from outside the building. There, they find a bus careening out of control!
And here’s where the calling come in… “Cry For Help” is associated with the Responsibility of Power calling. Any hero with that calling is pretty much obligated to attend to the bus and its helpless commuters. Otherwise, they risk losing the experience bonus at the end of the adventure.
Okay, next time I’ll discuss using the cards during play…