(This is my second basic FATE Tutorial, you can find the first here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/100212613856984996154/posts/bML1Z6ZKhzC

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FATE TUTORIAL 2: The Ladder, and Shifts

In our last tutorial we talked about the basic FATE dice mechanics ([Ability] + [4dF] versus GM target number). We’re going to expand on that here! At the end of that tutorial we mentioned the average roll of the dice comes to a fearsome +0. That means our unmodified [ability] serves as a good basis for what we can do. These [abilities] range from +0 to +5, with few exceptions. So how do we better determine what we can accomplish? Easy! We’ll have to look at the Ladder.

The Ladder

+8 Legendary
+7 Epic
+6 Fantastic
+5 Superb
+4 Great
+3 Good
+2 Fair
+1 Average
0 Mediocre
–1 Poor
–2 Terrible

The Ladder represents the range we’ll usually be working within. If we have a +2 in an ability, we’d describe it as Fair. If we roll a +1 and add it to that skill (for a +3 total), we can perform a Good task. If we had a total of +5 (+2 from the ability, +3 from the roll) it would be Superb, and so on. 

It’s up to the Game Master to decide where on the Ladder any given task falls (sneaking past a heavy sleeper might be a +1, while sneaking into the hoard of a notorious insomniac-dragon could be closer to +8), but there are some interesting guidelines that can help us, as players, determine the likelihood of success (but we’ll get to that in today’s Extra Credit!).

Sometimes, it isn’t just about succeeding. Sometimes we need to know how much better we did than the difficulty. We’re going to get into some jargon here. There are three words important to success in FATE: Effort, Effect, and Shift. We’ve already pretty much gone over these things, so don’t worry too much about remembering the specific words. Here’s a breakdown:

Effort is just our basic roll. [ability] + [4dF] = the Effort.  

Subtract that from the difficulty, and we get the Effect. Effort - Difficulty = the Effect. See? No problem so far.

The Effect is measured in Shifts. If we beat the difficulty by 3, that’s 3 Shifts of Effect. That’s the degree of awesome by which we outperform the difficulty. That means a little extra damage on an attack, or a cool bonus on a spell. The more Shift, the more power! They’re a bit like successes in the Storyteller system. 

An example:

Sarah can feel the heat from the building across the street. There’s no way Charles is escaping this time. Even if he makes it out of the inferno, Sarah is prepared to take matters into her own hands.

It’s a good thing, too! When the door burst open and a slightly-singed Charles comes stumbling out, Sarah has him dead to rights. She’s already pulling the trigger of her small pistol before the smoke is even out of his eyes.

This time we’re Sarah, looking to keep Charles inside the building, or make him regret escaping. There are some extra rules to combat we’re just going to skip for now (including defense rolls, weapons modifiers, stress, and consequences) but we’ll get those eventually! 

Sarah has a Fair (+2) Guns, the skill used for shooting. We roll a +1. That’s 3! 2 (Sarah’s [ability]) + 1 (Sarah’s roll of [4dF]) = 3 (Sarah’s Effort). And shooting a surprised Charles is difficulty 0. 

3 (Effort)- 0 (Difficulty) = a 3-Shift strong Effect. That’s a pretty fearsome gunshot! If it was just a 1-Shift shot, it’s probably a just a flesh wound. 3 Shifts is ferocious.

 _Charles staggers even before the shot rings in his ears, his middle aching from what feels like the blow of a sledgehammer._ Before he collapses, he sees the fierce brunette and her smoking pistol. 'I should’ve stayed in the fire'! he thinks, before the world goes black.

Extra Credit: With the relatively low probability of rolling -3s and -4s a difficulty two or more beneath our ability is almost guaranteed to be a success. A difficulty even with an ability has about a 60% likelihood to succeed. +1 reduces that to just below 40%. +2 beyond an ability is an unappetizing 20%. After that, it’s almost not worth mentioning! So, how does someone with a Superb (+5) skill succeed at a Legendary challenge? Why, the very heart of FATE! Aspects. Which will be discussed in the next FATE Tutorial!
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