The Powers That Be - SUPERS and POWERS FOR FATE

By D Edward Sauve

Powers in Fate? Powers in Fate are easy, dude.


Quite simply, anything you can do in Fate can be defined as a skill, its trappings and stunts.

That's the only real division in Fate 3.0. Your innate "awesomeness" and "facticity" (Sartre is useful for game design, who knew) as defined by your Aspects, and what you've done with it as defined by your skills and stunts.

I mean, think about it… Resources is a skill. Picture Rick Rambler, Hobo King. He's DIRT POOR, Money wise… but resources? He has those up the wazoo! Most of his currency is social, but resources is an effective short hand when his highness needs to get his lady Betty Boxcars a hen, baked beens, and cornmeal.

So. Powers are just REALLY COOL things you can do. Things that allow you to "break the rules"— sometimes the rules of Fate, but always the rules of "Normal" for a game world.

Get it Down

Powers can be reflected on a character sheet as stunts or skills.

Landon Darkwood defined stunts well— they add a new trapping to a skill it does not possess by default; provides a bonus, roughly equivalent to two shifts, for the use of a skill's normal trapping in a certain way; or they allow the skill to break one game rule, whether that rule is in
the text or agreed upon by the members of the gaming group.

Skills are basically collections of trappings based on one theme— the basic capability it grants and specific cases the skill is useful in. This, of course, can lead to obvious options for stunts.

Defining powers.

Powers can be defined quite simply.

1) Base Concept.

The creator should state what the power does. Try to state each thing the power will let you do in its own simple sentence.


Ian is creating Mr. Aware, a super sensitive hero. He states the heroes abilities as follows:

I can see into the infrared. I can hear at frequencies much higher than a normal human (dog whistles are ow!); I can also hear much lower frequencies (I can hear elephant's lowest trumpets). I can pick out every nuance of things I taste, and smell them before hand. My touch can detect the slightest change in texture.

Eddie is creating Moses "Momentum" Phelps, speedster.

I can move faster than a normal human being. I can move four zones on my turn by turning over one of my shifts as a supplemental action. When I sprint, I add my shifts to four, not one. And I'm getting faster.

2) Skill or Stunts?

Decide whether to model the power(s) as a skill or a stunt. The guideline is simple— can I use an established skill to cover this easily? Err on the side of stunts (an existing example is the Might stunt Herculean Strength from page 90 of SotC). However, if you're building a densely packed ablity, or want to seperate the powers from a particular mundane ability for some reason, by all means, use a skill. If you're using a skill, it takes a little more time. However, you're basically just writing rules text (possibly for a GM's approval). You'll want to define in broad strokes the skill, and the trappings you see it having. You'll want at least one default trapping, but two or three is better. Flying without a gadget/ vehicle might be a skill power for humans— we aren't just bending how we do things a little, we're smashing it up.


Ian decides to go the easy route and use a few Alertness stunts; one for his infrared sight, one for each end of his expanded hearing, one for his taste and smell (the GM agrees, due to the close relation between the two senses), and one for his touch. As an after thought, he takes On Top of It and Danger Sense. The GM notes Ian could take an additional stunt for a +2 on any "extra" sense, if he likes. Ian asks if he can keep that option open for later, and the GM agrees.

At first, the GM is going to suggest that Ed simply stack additional "speed stunts" on to athletics, but Eddie notes that he doesn't plan on putting any ranks in Athletics; Moses' speed is it. He's not especially agile. The GM thinks, noting that one of Mo's aspects is "Rather Patient for a Speeder", and allows it. The two argue over what the base trapping is, and here the GM is very strongly suggesting it must require a roll. Eddie sighs, and nods. He makes Sprint the default trapping. The GM notes that, now that that's the base ability, Mo can sprint for a shift. Eddie likes this idea, and amicably takes the GM's suggestion that Mo's base zone move remain the same, one zone, but he can do it without spending a shift as his second trapping with a successful roll. The GM says he can even increase that bonus later with a stunt. Eddie grins, and it gets bigger as the gm waves off his "I can can do things in half of the time it takes others" as a side effect of the established powers. Eddie offers a classic speedster trick, wall running, as his final trapping. Mo can run along any vertical surface, and may ignore the effects of all difficulty modifiers resulting from the environment or the characteristics of the thing he’s climbing… but he needs to stop at a plateau or he'll fall. He stunts in a similar Water Run ability, and almost considers it done… until Mabel, playing the super skilled Siren of Justice, points out he might want to take Marathon Training, since he has only Average (+1) Endurance. Eddie raises his eyebrows, then grins. The GM snaps his fingers in mock defeat.


If you need limits to powers for game effect1, I'd suggest four passibilities. One, we've heard will be used in the Dresdon Files version of Fate— reduce the Fate point refresh rate of a character— I'd suggest by one for every +1 in the numerical value for the skill, or skill the power stunt is attached. A power stunt attached to a Superb power reduces your refresh by 5. This is good where powers go hand in hand with dehumanization.2 When your refresh rate reaches zero, you're no longer a viable character.

Another option comes in the form of limiting the amount of your "skill structure" powers take up. Say all skills with powers are marked by an exclamation point, and only one of your slots normally given to a "normal" skill/ stunt per phase can be powers.

You may also require an aspect to access certain stunts and skills.

You may also limit the "depth" of such stunts— how many prior "levels" of stunts are required. The speed stunts in SotC on page 68 go three layers deep.

Keep it simple, and you're heading in the right direction. May I suggest using this document in unison with this one?3


Take an aspect to reflects states in which you are powerless, things that sap your life, and so on. You get a fate point when it comes up. Role play the effects— render you powerless? Don't use those super powers. Causes you pain? Take a complication. You can of course avoid these by spending a fate point— also useful to simulate that one moment you surge past them for an act of heroism.

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