Fate Reactive Diceless

A build I’m considering, potentially to be playtested on road trips where dice would be awkward.


An additional stress track, called Action, is added to your character sheet.  Whenever you take any action aside from blocking an attack in combat, you must check off one of the boxes on this track.

The highest box you can check off corresponds to the skill used.  The length is equivalent to normal.  So, if you are running a basic 2 stress game, you have four stress boxes.  If you have Fight at Good or Great, you can use up to your fourth box for an attack.  If you have it at Fair or Average, you can use up to your third stress box.  If you don’t have the skill, you can only use your bottom two.

At the start of combat, the person with the highest initiative gets first choice.  This doesn’t mean they go first unless they want to.  Rather, they choose who goes first.

When it is your turn, and you have completed your turn, you choose who goes next from the list of characters who have not had a turn this round including the other team.  Careful — you don’t always want your whole team to go before the bad guys:  whoever moves last gets to choose who goes first next round.  If the badguys go last, you might have to suffer two rounds worth of abuse before you can hit back!

On your turn, you can take any number of actions, provided you have an available stress box.  So, you could go four times in a row.

On a turn not your own, if you are in a position to defend against an opponent’s action, you may also take an action simultaneously, rather than defending (or as a defense, if you are dodging).  Of course, you have to check off one of your action stress boxes to do this.  So when your turn comes up, you must decide how much stress you intend to devote to actions, and how much you intend to save for defenses and simultaneous actions.

Your Action Stress clears when your turn comes up again.

Finally, you may take as a stunt the ability to perform a specific action once per round for free.  E.G. “Free Dodge — once per round, you maydodge an attack without taking Action Stress”.


Diceless is exactly what it sounds like.  The dice never come out.  Your character is assumed to perform every skill as if they rolled a zero.  This makes setting up aspects, Fate Points, and free invokes extra-especially important, as when your turn comes around, you are going to want the ability to boost your skill if needed.

The GM keeps the stats of the players and NPCs to himself, but is obligated to warn the player if their chosen action will result in straight-up obliteration.  E.g. “As you run to the edge of the cliff, you skid to a halt.  You know there’s no way you’re going to jump it.  Would you like to try something else?”

To keep things simple:

Skills follow the Approach System from Fate Accelerated.

There are six approaches.  You get one at Good, two at Fair, and two at Average.  The remaining approach is Mediocre.

The approaches are:

  • Careful
  • Clever
  • Flashy
  • Forceful
  • Quick
  • Sneaky

Careful is used for stuff based on perception and attention to detail.  Lining up an arrow.  Noticing a ninja.  Constructing a bomb.

Clever is used for things that require fast thinking, tons of knowledge, or juggling multiple variables mentally.

Flashy is attention-getting stuff.  Inspiring speeches.  Embarrassing someone.  Magical fireworks.

Forceful is the unsubtle stuff.  Wrestling a bear.  Staring down a thug.  Casting a tough spell.

Quick is the dexterity-based stuff.  Dodging attacks.  Getting in the first punch.  Disarming a bomb with 5 seconds left.

Sneaky is about deceit, misdirection, or stealth.  Talking your way out of getting arrested.  Hiding.  Feinting in a sword fight.

The difference between skills and approaches is fairly obvious, and there’s a lot of overlap.  A swordsman might try a quick attack or a forceful attack.

Moreover, stunts apply as if the full skill list were in order: it applies to a specific action, not an approach, so it may work for multiple approaches depending on the situation.

Your mental and physical stress tracks, thus, also go all the way to four, but you can only take stress up to the level corresponding to how you defend (e.g. if you’ve got Forceful at Good, you can take up to four stress if you just endure the hit, but if you want to dodge it, you can only take 3).

The point is the GM can fit everyone on a couple of sheets, including the badguys.  Why?

Getting to the Point

FRD is about story-telling with a strong strategic undercurrent.  In the end, everything should come down to a description:  you describe how you do something, the GM looks at your approach rankings and tells you the results.


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