Simple Magic Guidelines
This document provides guidelines for a simple and fast magic system utilizing the
four standard actions of Fate Accelerated.
- Mystical Archetypes: discussion of the prerequisite
Archetypes that unlock the ability to cast potent spells or prayers
- Spellcasting Classes: Classes? What Classes?
- Source Material As Inspiration: discussion
of using the source material, i.e. the classes and spell lists of the Pathfinder
RPG, as guidance...or not as you prefer
- Justification: guidance on the thing that really matters,
narrative justification for particular kinds of effect
- Approaches: guidance on combining Approaches and mystic
- Defend: how to use the Defend Action with mystic Archetypes
- Attack: how to use the Attack Action with mystic Archetypes
to inflict stress directly
- Overcome: how to use the Overcome Action with mystic Archetypes
to solve problems
- Create Advantage: how to use the Create Advantage
Action with mystic Archetypes to create spell Aspects (this is the workhorse Action
for complex magic)
- Save Or Bad: guidance on absolute effects in the source
- Options: magic system options
are provided to extend this magic system with things like prepared casting, alchemy,
elementalists, and so forth
spells: some sample spells are provided as examples
The mystical Archetypes of Arcane, Divine, and Primal
or better allow on the fly casting of more significant and powerful magic spells
and prayers, using the standard four actions of Fate Accelerated per the guidelines
given in this document.
The mystical Archetypes of Arcane, Divine, and Primal
allow a character to cast minor "spells" or "blessings", using these guidelines.
In terms of the source material, this is the realm of "0 level" cantrips and orisons,
and the occasional "1st level" spell or prayer.
The mystical Archetypes of Arcane, Divine, and Primal
allow a character to have basic topical knowledge of the applicable realm of expertise,
and to use Scrolls, Wands, Fetishes, and similar "spell completion" items keyed
to the applicable category of magic. However, this level of ability is insufficient
for a character to cast spells.
Psionics, Ki & Spell-like Abilities
These guideline can also be applied to characters using
to accomplish Psionics, Wuxia style ki / chi abilities, spell-like abilities, or
not-exactly-magic-but-may-as-well-be effects, with merely
a change of theme.
Option: A Few Known Spells
Effects more powerful than cantrips are beyond the +2 level of ability (unless the
character is taking advantage of the
Prepared Casting Option,
trading the ability to free cast more spells for increased potency and reliability).
But to allow a character to get concrete benefit out of a +2 in one of these Archetypes
without lowering the bar on access to serious magic, the GM can allow a player to
define between two and five minor "1st level" equivalent spells / prayers that their
character knows and is able to use per these guidelines.
Such a character might be able to "learn" more minor spells as they discover them
in their travels, until such a time as the character gains a +3 in their Archetype
and graduates to master status and can freely cast spells.
Skoth, a character with Arcane +2, demonstrates
The degree of strict or open-ended adherence to the source material is left open
to a given GM or group's preferences.
However, by default within this material the clearly delineated classes of the source
material are not being imprinted on Fate Accelerated as anything other than inspiration.
So for instance "Wizard" vs "Sorcerer" vs "Witch" vs "Magus" vs all the many and
sundry prestige classes and variants is meaningful only to the extent that it is
echoed within a character's Aspects, choice of Stunts, and general flavor; functionally
it is all just Arcane.
Source Material As Inspiration
Players and the GM are free to think up and suggest their own spell effects, but
on top of that the source material (i.e. Pathfinder) provides copious spell lists
to draw inspiration from and also to suggest what sorts of effects are permissible.
In many cases, a spell's name taken directly from the source material or something
extrapolated from it can be used straight up as the name for a situational Aspect
with an agreed upon meaning interpreted from the spell's effect in the source material.
There is nothing wrong with this approach, and it can allow players familiar with
any version of D&D to boldly proclaim things like
"I cast Wall Of Fire!" or
"Explosive Runes!" without requiring a lot of up front discussion about
what that actually means.
Pathfinder FAE takes the general stance that "classes" and the categorization of
magic into Arcane,
Divine, Primal is partially just fluff and flavor, and partially an artifact of
a regimented "class and level" system.
The Pathfinder FAE premise is that what really matters in all things is
capitalized for effect because it is really important.
For purposes of spellcasting, the most important question to be asked is
"What narrative effects does this particular spellcaster's concept justify?".
If a given spell feels out of character for a given spellcaster, it should be taken
as a sign that something is amiss.
Pro Tip: for a given spellcasting character constantly ask, "given this character's
concept and past exploits, what effects on the narrative are "in bounds" or "out
of bounds" for them when using their magic?".
Tale Of The Tape
Generally, Pathfinder FAE suggests that a player of a magic using character
attempting to introduce a new spell or effect to the narrative should first consider
if there is anything in their character's Aspects, Stunts, Approach allocations,
how the character has been portrayed thus far that suggests that the spell or effect
is or should be part of their character's repertoire.
Pro Tip: If a player tries to justify a spell or effect and the GM and / or other
players do not think it sounds legit, that is direct feedback that the rest of the
group does not consider the effect of the spell to be "in bounds" for the character.
Often times, one or more suggestions of an effect that people feel is more appropriate
to the character and the situation might be forthcoming from the rest of the table.
If a given group is trying to adhere to the source material pretty closely, they
will already have some notions about what kind of "spells" are and are not in bounds
for a "Wizard" or a "Cleric" or a "Druid", etc.
Does it make sense that a "Wizard" can hurl a lightning bolt from his hands? The
source material says yes.
A "Cleric"? The source material generally says no, but
if they have an Aspect analogous to the "Lightning Domain", then sure.
A "Druid"? The source material says...not
exactly...but they can pull a lightning bolt down from the sky for a similar effect
because that fits their shtick of "manipulating the environment" better.
However, the concepts of the source material can be followed as closely as the play
group desires, or not at all. Whatever makes for a more engaging game for that group
is the correct way to go.
Omnipotence Is Narratively Boring
Though it might seem unintuitive, players should consider that a spellcaster that
can cast any spell they want any time they like is actually quite boring from a
narrative perspective as they can't be properly challenged and thus there is no
dramatic tension involved in that character's evolving story.
that have a well defined shtick and work within it to find clever solutions tend
to be more relatable and narratively interesting, and this is as true for a magic
using character as any other Archetype.
While Pathfinder FAE players have a tremendous amount of agency to define their
own character concept and pursue lines of play that are interesting to them, ultimately
if they find it necessary to do so the GM can veto a spell or effect that they do
not think is narratively justified in a given scene, or that they think is out of
bounds for a given character.
Pro Tip: GM veto should be exercised with care. There is a fine balance to maintain
between permissiveness in the interests of fun vs. protecting the long term health
of a campaign.
A GM that doesn't feel comfortable saying "No", or who is ok with a particular effect
being used occasionally but not always, can just dial the difficulty up a few notches.
Pro Tip: a generally more interesting
way to handle things (assuming they are not potentially plot-destroying) is for
the GM to "say Yes", but raise the difficulty commensurately to how unlikely they
think success should be. The player can then decide if they still want to make the
attempt, or change their mind.
But even a GM that is reluctant to say "No" can and should veto any effect that
ruins the fun of the game for the group as a whole or jeopardizes the long term
health of the game.
Pro Tip: The GM should beware of effects that assert game mechanics
over the narrative as they can strongly erode the point of using a narrative system
such as Fate Accelerated in the first place.
Martial / Caster Disparity
By default, there is no "martial / caster disparity" in Fate Accelerated. A "wizard"
using magic to attack, overcome, create advantage, or defend is using the same four
actions as a "fighter" using their martial competence to attack, overcome, create
advantage, or defend.
However, all of that intrinsic balance pivots on the fulcrum of justification. A
character that can justify nearly anything can attempt more things than a character
that can only justify a narrow range of things, and thus will have more overall
impact on the story as their relevance to unfolding events is higher.
A more narrowly defined character that cannot justify very many effects might
still be more reliable within their specialty, but will have a difficult time remaining
relevant in the long term.
Pro Tip: if a GM finds that after a while most of their players seem to want to
play some kind of spellcaster, they should ask themselves if they are being too
lenient with what they allow magic users to justify, or too strict on what they
allow non-spellcasters justify.
Non-mystical characters with high Combatives, Roguish, and Focused
should be equally able to justify impressive effects appropriate to their shticks
as spellcasters can within theirs.
Thus if spellcasting is allowed to be a blank check that can justify anything, and
non-spellcasters are prohibited from using their abilities in similarly flexible
ways, the classic martial / caster disparity will rear its head once again despite
system itself not asserting it.
With narrative support, just about any Approach can theoretically be used for any
sort of magic. However, there is synergy to be had by at least loosely tying certain
kinds of spell effects to thematically appropriate Approaches.
Careful is good for rituals and spells that require
fiddly components and precision, and conjurations.
Clever is good for divinations and crafty transmutations,
and so forth.
Flashy is good for area affecting magic, prismatic
spells and anything big, loud, colorful, or otherwise splashy and obvious.
Forceful is good for direct attacks and flat assertions
or negations such as some abjuration effects.
Quick is good for simple effects, charms or other
effects mixed in with a mundane activity, and reactive / defensive magic.
Sneaky is good for illusions, some enchantments,
shadow magic, shapechanging magic used to deceive, and magic that lacks obvious
Each mystic Archetype can be used to Defend against
itself. If one character uses Arcane to attack another character, the target can
defend with Arcane, and so on. It's as simple as that. You can think of this as
"counter-magic", or a "saving throw", or just a neat feature of the rules as you
If a character wants to use a Archetype to defend across a different Archetype
vector like Divine types who want their "god to protect them" against non-Divine
threats, or an Arcanist who wants to gain some physical protection from their Arcane
skills without having to spend actions setting up "protective spells" via Create
Advantage (and so on) a Stunt can be taken to enable that. For instance:
Arcane Aegis: Because I have mastered protecting myself with magic, I may use Arcane to defend against physical attacks without needing to first create an advantage to invoke.
Divine Aegis: Because my patron deity protects me I may use Divine to defend against non-Divine magical and unusual attacks without needing to first create an advantage to invoke, unless I have recently done something unworthy of my faith.
Primal Resistance: Because my primal nature and elemental affinity protects me, I may use Primal to defend against non-Primal magical attacks without needing to first create an advantage to invoke.
Damage spells are generally just resolved using the Attack
action. It usually doesn't need to be any more complicated than that. Describe the
nature of the attack, choose the Approach that seems to best apply to the situation,
the caster adds that Approach to their relevant mystical Archetype, and rolls 4dF.
Range is fiddly as spells in the source material vary widely and Fate Accelerated
abstracts such things.
As a rule of thumb it is useful to assume that attack spells can target opponents
within the same zone or an adjacent zone.
A caster has the option to either take a one (1) shift penalty or spend an extra
exchange of "casting" for each additional two (2) zones of distance.
Higher Level Attack Spells?
There aren't larger dice or bigger dice pools involved, so there's no point to stratification
with "higher level" spells that do more damage than "lower levels" spells. A character
with Arcane +5 adds two (2) more shifts than a character with Arcane +3 and thus
inflicts two extra shifts of stress on average. Higher Archetype means more damage,
Fate Accelerated handles affecting multiple targets by rolling for effect and then
splitting shifts to allocate to multiple targets. This seems to create a bit of
a friction point, as in the source material many spellcaster's main combat advantage
is the ability to blow up groups of enemies with spells like Fireball and Chain
Depending on how the GM treats "mooks" (nameless opponents), this isn't necessarily
an actual issue. If the GM opts to treat a pack of nameless opponents as a single
mob, the narrative effect of a Fireball type effect isn't lost as the mob's shared
stress track respresents multiple notional "targets".
Regardless, it will often prove inefficient to split shifts between nameless mooks
and named NPC's with full write ups. For one, named characters with the standard
array of consequences are durable in Fate Accelerated, benefiting from a good deal
of "plot protection". Secondly, from a pragmatic perspective, a capable named NPC
with a full write up will often be able to defend against a measly few shifts of
Yet, again, this isn't necessarily the end of the story. It is fully expected that
many named NPC's with full write ups are important enough to the story (else, why
bother with full write ups), that the GM will often have them concede should consequences
start piling up. Character death is a narrative decision in Fate Accelerated, and
this is as true for significant NPC's as it is for player characters. Thus, even
though it is unlikely to take a significant opponent out, spreading some shifts
around with big splashy magical attacks can still encourage concessions.
It may sometimes be allowed to cast a spell that attacks everyone in a zone, but
this can be very powerful and must be handled carefully. Many GM's may not want
to allow it within the context of a free-casting magic system where a spellcaster
could whip out such effects at will, and it is the default assumption of Pathfinder
Fate Accelerated that zone affecting attacks are out of bounds for characters.
A GM might allow a character using the
Prepared Casting Option
to prepare one or more attack spells that affect a zone. If so, such spells do not
benefit from the "double your Arcane bonus" prepared casting beneft. Care should
still be taken to monitor such spells to avoid a "caster / martial" disparity.
Instead, one or more Stunts can be taken which impose a frequency of use such as
once per conflict or once per session, and / or a cost to the user such as a Fate
point or a conseqence.
Non spell casters can take this sort of Stunt as well, to demonstrate martial prowess
or unusual competence. For instance,
demonstrates this option.
Chained Lightning: Because I am able to project a bolt of lighting that jumps from target to target, once per session when I am Flashily Arcane and attack I may affect all enemy targets in my zone without having to split my shifts between them.
Fireburst: Because I am able to cause a mystical explosion to occur, once per session when I am Flashily Arcane and attack I may affect all targets in up to two contiguous adjacent zones without having to split my shifts between them. This is non-discriminatory, and often causes collateral damage.
Mana Bolts: Because I am able to launch target-seeking magical bolts, when I am Cleverly Arcane and attack I may spend a Fate point or suffer the Mild Consequence Spell Fatigue to affect all enemy targets in an adjacent zone without having to split my shifts between them.
Players of spellcasting characters should consider taking advantage of the Succeed
with Style option on Attacks to do one (1) shift less damage to get a boost. With
a little narrative flair, interesting boosts can be used to add some "magical" flavor
to an otherwise straightforward numerical outcome.
Whenever a caster wants to use their magic as the justification to get past something,
solve a problem, remove a situational Aspect, etc, it is typically just a standard
use of the Overcome action.
This is useful for a wide variety of problem-solving spells, like Dispel, or Knock
(using magic to pick a lock, basically), or divining things, or quickly charming
a NPC to get past them, and so forth.
Beware Of The Universal
This use of magic is the simplest to deal with mechanically, and quickly resolved
in most cases, but it is this facet of magic that has the potential to allow spellcasters
to dominate play. If magic takes on the role of a "universal tool" able to solve
any problem, it particularly steps on Roguish abilities. This is a common problem
for magic systems in general, but particularly "free-form" cast on the fly models
where there is
no real opportunity cost or need to guess what will be needed ahead of time.
However, for purposes of Fate Accelerated a GM can solve for this potential pitfall
pretty easily. The most direct and reliable way is to simply set the difficulty
+2 higher (or more) when a character uses magic to Overcome something that would
more typically be solved via mundane abilities. Thus, there is a real reason to
do it the "hard way"; it is more likely to succeed.
A second less reliable but often times more limiting restriction is to disallow
the usage of certain Approaches when using magic to Overcome some tasks...particularly
In other words, if it is obvious when a character is using magic to solve a problem
in lieu of mundane proficiency, it helps protect the Roguish bailiwick of doing
things without being seen doing them. For instance, just strolling up to a guard
and Flashily casting a charm spell on them to gain access to whatever they are guarding
has a wildly different possible narrative outcome than a skilled con artist trying
the same thing by bluffing or bribing their way in.
Magic that asserts a fact to be true, interacts with or alters some fundamental
trait (i.e. Aspects), modifies the environment, creates some pervasive long term
effect, or otherwise does something lasting, is typically "cast" by using a Create Advantage action to apply a situational Aspect
to a target, such as the caster, another character, an object, or the scene itself.
Note, this kind of situational Aspect is referred to as a
Limit On The Number
Of Spell Aspects
To keep magic users from getting out of hand by just "buffing" themselves or their
allies with a bunch of spell Aspects, as a general rule a character can have a number
of spell Aspects equal to their Archetype active at the same time. Creating a new
spell Aspect beyond that limit causes one of the in play spell Aspects of the player's
choice to be cancelled and removed from play.
Thus a character with Arcane +3 can maintain three (3) active spell Aspects at the
same time, while an advanced character with Divine +5 can maintain five (5) active
spell Aspects simultaneously.
Spell Aspects gained from other casters or items like Scrolls do not count against
Generally speaking, creating spell Aspects is just a Create Advantage action and
thus the GM simply assesses a base difficulty per their discretion. Generally the
difficulty for a spell Aspect will be based upon how powerful or pervasive the effect
that the Aspect is meant to represent is.
However, these guidelines make some assumptions that extra shifts will be available
to apply additional attributes to spell Aspects, so GM's using these guidelines
are encouraged to be somewhat lenient and not go much above a Superb (+5) difficulty
even for high end effects if the caster is unopposed.
Using the Source Material's Spell
Lists As Inspiration
If using one or more spell lists as inspiration, as a convenient rule of thumb if
the caster is unopposed assume a base difficulty of Mediocre (+0), and add half of the source material's spell level of the effect being
approximated, rounding up.
Thus, assuming the caster is unopposed, to create a spell Aspect based on a 1st
or 2nd level
spell from the source material would be an Average (+1) difficulty, while creating
a spell Aspect based on a 3rd or 4th level spell would be a Fair (+2) difficulty,
a spell Aspect based on a 9th level spell would be a Superb (+5) difficulty.
However, it is important to remember that this is just a rule of thumb, not a carved
in stone mandate. The GM should feel free to set difficulties based upon
their sense of how impactful a given create advantage outcome might be, particularly
considering that the spellcasting character's player will likely want to use such
an effect more than once over the course of a campaign.
Setting A Difficulty Is Also Setting
The first time a new spell effect is introduced, it puts the GM on the spot to come
up with a workable difficulty. This can be somewhat problematic as the difficulty
chosen will become the precedent the next time someone casts the same spell or a
similar one as casting the same spell under the same conditions should generally
be the same difficulty.
Thus setting a difficulty too high or too low relative to the impact
of the spell, creates problems over time.
As the GM, just try to err on the side of consistency and sustainability; i.e. set
a difficulty that isn't so low it creates later problems when the spell is cast
again, nor so high relative to its effect that no one wants to use the spell anymore
as the risk vs reward is upside down.
Generally, players will be more receptive if you later
reduce the difficulty to cast a particular kind of spell rather than if you go the
opposite direction and assert a higher difficulty on a spell they've gotten used
to casting at a lower difficulty. Thus if you are on the spot and feel like a spell
should be a little more difficult to cast, go ahead and bump the difficulty up by
+1 or even +2 and see how it goes...if it proves to not be egregious as you feared
you can ratchet the difficulty down later.
The normal rules for Create Advantage apply; successfully creating a spell Aspect
grants one (1) free invoke, and succeeding with style grants an extra free invoke
for two (2) total free invocations.
But in addition to the normal success outcomes, a spellcaster also gets to apply
the extra shifts they rolled for further benefit.
Shifts get split up in various ways to increase duration (two (2) extra shifts per
one (1) time increment up the scale), base difficulty for other characters to Overcome
and remove the spell Aspect (one (1) extra shift per one (1) higher difficulty),
extra invokes (two (2) extra shifts per one (1) extra invoke), and so forth as seems
to make sense in the moment.
Note: Players can keep simple notes on the spell Aspects their characters have used
before with assessed difficulties and basic effects for future reuse.
Spell Aspect Base Difficulties
Each spell Aspect requires some interpretation on the part of the GM, but if a spell
Aspect creates a situation that can be overcome the spell Aspect has a base difficulty
equal to the difficulty to cast it. The spellcaster may apply extra shifts to increase
the base difficulty.
One (1) extra shift can be applied to raise the difficulty to overcome a spell Aspect
by one (1), any number of times.
For instance, a spell with a difficulty of Superb (+5) to cast would also present
at least a Superb (+5) difficulty to overcome for anyone attempting to get rid of
the Aspect. To raise the difficulty to overcome the spell Aspect to Legendary (+8)
would take three (3) extra shifts.
Level Of Effect
Many spell Aspects that affect the scene or other characters can be thought of as
having a 'level of effect', with some being
more powerful than others based upon the skill of the caster and how well or poorly
the spell Aspect was cast.
Unless specifically noted otherwise in a spell Aspect's description, if it is necessary
to determine how much effect the Aspect has when it interacts with the scene or
a character, treat the spell Aspect's level of effect as being equal to its difficulty
For instance, a spell Aspect with a Legendary (+8) difficulty to overcome is assumed
to also have a Legendary (+8) level of effect unless a different level of effect
is specifically described for the spell.
Unless otherwise noted, spell Aspects function exactly like any other Aspect, offering
narrative flavor but needing to be invoked to provide any mechanical benefit or
And though some spell Aspects are primarily passive and mainly serve to establish
a fact (such as Invisibility or Flight), they can still reasonably
be invoked for a bonus when applicable like any other Aspect.
As mentioned previously, success grants a free invoke and succeeding with style
grants a total of two (2) free invokes, but extra shifts beyond success can be allocated
to get additional free invokes.
Two (2) extra shifts can be applied for one (1) additional free invoke, any number
Thus if a spellcaster succeeded with style to create a spell Aspect for two (2)
total free invokes but got +4 more than they needed to succeed on their 4dF roll,
they could apply the extra shifts for two (2) additional free invokes...a total
of four (4) invokes!
Spell Aspect Durations
Generally speaking, spell Aspect are usually situational Aspects placed on a target.
The target can be a character, a zone, the scene itself, or any other legal target
for an Aspect.
Guidelines are provided for how long spell Aspects last. However, the narrative
always trumps extended duration; if it no longer makes sense
for a spell Aspect to exist, it is removed regardless of any other factor.
Active Spell Aspect Durations
Spell Aspects that are direct or overt rather than passive must be actively invoked
to have a meaningful effect, but they usually stick around until discharged (have
no further invokes remaining) even past the end of scenes. However, they are usually
removed from play immediately once they are out of invokes. Their duration can thus
be extended by gaining more free invokes.
For instance, a Mystical Shield spell that must be invoked to grant a +2
bonus on a Defend action, or a Flaming Sword spell that must be invoked to
grant a +2 bonus on an Attack action would generally last as long as they have invokes
remaining, but dissipate as soon as their last invoke is used.
Passive Spell Aspect
On the other hand, spell Aspects that are fairly passive and assert facts into the
narrative might last for a scene and possibly longer unless they are overcome or
the narrative suggests that they should be removed.
Passive spell Aspects that simply assert facts on the narrative can have their duration
increased by allocating two (2) extra shifts per time increment, or as negotiated
with the GM.
Thus a spell caster could apply two (2) shifts to make a passive spell Aspect stick
around for two (2) scenes.
For more sophisticated spells, it can be useful to use Create Advantage to create
a spell Aspect that can then be invoked later (or triggered by a narrative event)
to cause an Attack, Defend, Overcome, or even a different Create Advantage action
To do this, a spellcaster describes the effect they are going for and what action
will be proxied. If the GM agrees, the caster then use Create Advantage as normal.
However in addition to the things that extra shifts can be allocated towards, the
caster may also allocate some number of shifts to the proxied action they are attaching
to the spell Aspect. The number of shifts allocated to the proxied action provide
the bonus that will be applied to the proxied action's 4dF roll when it is activated
If the caster succeeds with style they can choose to gain +1 extra shift instead
of an extra invocation of the proxied action if that makes more sense for the spell
For instance, Voxel uses a Create Advantage action while
Sneakily Arcane to attach the Exploding Runes spell
Aspect to a location. Narratively, he has inscribed Explosive Runes underneath a
carefully placed book such that when a victim picks up the book the Runes explode!
The GM sets the Difficulty at Fair (+2). Voxel rolls ++-, and adds his Sneaky
+ Arcane bonus of +5 for a total of +6. Voxel needed +2 to succeed, so he has 4
extra shifts; he also succeeded with style and opts for +1 shift. Therefore the
Explosive Rune spell Aspect has 5 shifts of effect embedded in it, and will make
an Attack roll at +5 whenever it gets triggered later. After it is triggered, the
spell Aspect is removed from the scene.
Conjuration And Summoning
The source material has a variety of spells that summon an ally or monster to serve
the caster's will. Other spells don't summon a creature per se but do create some
kind of construct that acts independently from the caster.
For convenience, let's call this sort of "summoned" or "called" or "conjured" character
This can be tricky in Fate Accelerated, as the rules don't really cover followers
or sidekicks and the like. There is also the concern that a spellcaster summoning
minions has a force multiplying effect, and also that they can summon minions that
offer skill-like abilities or Stunts that step on the roles of other characters.
Basically, this sort of effect will require quite a lot more adjudication than most
Servitors are basically mooks, with a few differences. Like mooks, they have a simplified
profile, and a write-up can represent either an individual or a "mob" that acts
together as a group.
Any spellcaster can summon a servitor, regardless of whether they are
Arcane, Divine, or Primal
based. Generally, summoning a servitor is done while being Careful.
A servitor is summoned by casting a spell using the Create Advantage action to attach
a spell Aspect to a scene, the caster themselves, or some other viable target as
makes sense. The difficulty to summon a servitor starts at Mediocre (+0), and goes
up for more powerful servitors.
Mechanically, the servitor spell Aspect anchors the servitor to the target. It can
also be dispelled or removed by characters with appropriate abilities or narrative
justification using the overcome action; the difficulty to do so is left to the
GM's discretion but usually would be equal to the difficulty required to summon
Descriptively, a servitor summoned in this way might appear or arrive in whatever
manner suits the narrative or concept.
A spellcaster can reduce the difficulty to summon a servitor by spending extra exchanges
prior to making the attempt. Each exchange spent "casting", neither moving or taking
some other action, prior to making the 4dF check to create the servitor spell Aspect
grants a +1 bonus to the roll.
A baseline servitor gets two Aspects, uses a simple hit box track
starting at zero (0) hit boxes, has one (1) skill-like ability that they are good at
(+2) or two (2) skill-like abilities they are fair at (+1 each), and are either
bad at one (1) thing (-2) or poor at two (2) things (-1 each).
The difficulty for summoning a baseline servitor is Mediocre (+0).
Good At: Spread +2 around 1 to 2 skill-like abilities
Bad At: Spread -2 around 1 to 2 skill-like abilities
Servitors can be improved upon from the default baseline, but the summoning difficulty that
must be overcome to summon an upgraded servitor increases commensurately.
The Servitor Improvements chart details how much additional difficulty is incurred
per upgrade. The difficulty increases are cumulative, and round up.
As a convenience, the difficulty to summon a servitor can be annotated on the servitor
Upgraded servitors can be written up on the fly as needed, but to avoid slowing
play a GM might require all servitors to be written up and approved outside of play
time. Existing mook write-ups may be repurposed as servitors by adding up the mook's
upgrades to determine the difficulty. Characters with full write-ups are not mooks
and thus cannot be used as servitors.
Summoning Difficulty Adjustment
Additional +1 "Good At" skill-like ability bonus
-1 Refresh equivalent ability
Stress Box (up to )
Reducing "Bad At" penalty by -1
Additional -1 "Bad At" penalty
A servitor is not necessarily obedient to their summoner, but an
Obedient or Loyal or similar Aspect can
be added to a servitor to ensure compliancy.
A servitor can be a spellcaster, but must have a relevant skill-like ability at
+3 or better.
Servitor Autonomy and Initiative
Servitors act on their own, but unless they have a skill-like ability, Aspect, or
Stunt that suggests otherwise, they have initiative 0.
Stress Boxes vs Hit Boxes
By default, the baseline servitor has zero (0) hit boxes; however it can be upgraded
to have more, with each additional hit box increasing the difficulty to summon the
servitor by +1. There is no cap on how many hit boxes a servitor might have.
A servitor can have stress boxes instead of hit boxes if desired. Each additional
stress box increases the difficulty to summon the servitor by +1. The stress boxes
follow the normal progression of ,
must be taken in order, and are capped at .
A servitor that has a full stress track ()
can have a Mild consequence, raising the difficulty to summon the servitor.
A servitor that has a Mild consequence may also have a Moderate consequence, raising
the difficulty further.
A servitor that has a Moderate consequence may also have a Severe consequence, raising
the difficulty once again.
Servitors can have additional "Bad At" penalties at the GM's discretion, each -1
penalty reduces the difficulty required to summon the servitor by -1. However, the
GM should ensure that any such penalties taken are actually relevant and not a min-maxing
attempt by a player.
Servitors can also have various restrictions upon themselves or upon the summoning
of them; such restrictions lower the difficulty to cast the summoning spell by a
variable amount. What constitutes a valid restriction and how much it lowers the
difficulty to summon the servitor is left to the GM's discretion.
Servitors can reduce the default "Bad At" penalty the baseline begins with; each
-1 removed raises the summoning difficulty by +1.
Tamara is Carefully Arcane and uses a Create Advantage action
while Carefully Arcane to attach the Murder Of Crows
spell Aspect to the scene.
Tamara has summoned a Murder of Crows before and thus there is an existing write-up;
otherwise one would be created on the fly.
Compared to a baseline servitor, the Murder of Crows has some hit boxes, an extra
Aspect, and an extra Good At bonus, which collectively raises the difficulty to
summon such a servitor from Mediocre (+0) to Good (+3).
Tamara adds her Careful + Arcane bonus to a 4dF roll and in this scenario succeeds
at casting the spell. Narratively she utters a disturbing command, and a swarm of
oily black feathered birds converges upon the area to do Tamara's bidding.
Arcane Spell (Conjuration), Summoning
Create Advantage while Carefully Arcane vs a Good (+3) difficulty to attach the spell Aspect Murder of Crows! to a target up to two zones away to summon a mob of angry crows and cause them to attack and harry the target. See the Murder of Crows servitor profile for details.
Servitors are explained in the
Caw Caw Caw, Murder On The Wing, Obedient
Good At: Pecking (+2), Distracting (+1)
Bad At: No Thumbs (-2)
Save Or Bad
The source material has a variety of "make a saving throw or a very bad thing happens"
effects, up to and including the infamous Save Or Die effects. Fate Accelerated
generally does not lend itself to such extreme and non-narrative outcomes, taking
the stance that such absolute and capricious effects are not fun and have a lot
of potential to wreck a story for no good reason other than randomness.
Nevertheless, many of the Save Or Bad type effects can reasonably be handled as
simple Attacks, with applicable narrative interpretation if Consequences are suffered.
Particularly vs "mooks", who are generally not very durable.
Against mooks, it is often possible to simply make a magic based Attack and narrate
the outcome per the Save Or Bad effect. By this reasoning if you wipe out a mook
or damage a mob of mooks, it doesn't really matter mechanically if you describe
the effect as straightforward damage or something more esoteric such as disintegration
or petrification or banishment.
However named characters with full write ups including standard stress and consequences
generally can not be taken out in one shot from full health, and will thus be largely
exempt from such instant death alpha strike effects.
From a narrative perspective this is actually a good thing; it prevents significant
NPCs and by extension even entire scenes from getting anticlimactically one-shotted
out of the session. It is also in the player characters' best interests in the long
run as they enjoy the same protection. Think of characters with full write ups (vs
mook write ups) as having built in plot protection, or if you must, as having a
better "saving throw" than mere minions.
But Save vs Bad effects can still provide inspiration for creative Consequences.
For instance a "Save vs Petrification" effect could be represented as an attack
spell, and if a Consequence is applied to the target as a result of the attack a
petrification theme would be applied. A relevant Mild Consequence might be Stoned
Reflexes, a Moderate Consequence might be Stiffened Joints and Pebbly Skin,
and a Severe Consequence might be Partialy Petrified.
Applying some creative interpretation to Consequences and concessions in this way
opens up a lot of options for handling some of the more powerful and arbitrarily
absolute abilities in the source material. However, to prevent abuse the GM might
want to enforce some opportunity costs around this kind of overt Consequence manipulation.
At the GM's discretion, particularly strong, advantageous, or specific Consequence
manipulating abilities or spell Aspects might also require a character to invest
in a Stunt clearly defining how they are able to impose a Consequence and what benefit
they gain from it.
Arcane Domination (-2): Because of my mastery of mind-affecting enchantments, while I am Forcefully Arcane I can make mental attacks against a living target in my zone or an adjacent zone. Consequences inflicted by this ability pertain to my gaining increasing control over the target's mind. If the target concedes to me, the target must do as I command in general but retains enough control to avoid doing anything fundamentally against the target's nature. If the target is taken out with this ability I assume full control of the target's behavior until they are able to recover from the Consequences.
Necromantic Enervation: Because I am a master of necromancy, I am able to drain the life energy from others. While I am Sneakily Arcane I can attack others with 'Life Draining' spells; in addition to the stress if I inflict a Consequence on my target I afflict them with enervation and ennui. Consequences such as Easily Fatigued, Fits Of Ennui, Prone To Depression, and Sunk Into A Deep Funk cause those afflicted to struggle to motivate and empower themselves, to unexpectedly lose interest in being active, become unconcerned about succeeding in their endeavors, and so forth. If a target is taken out in this way, they die and rise again as an Undead minion that I can control for the remainder of the scene and possibly longer at the GM's discretion.
Enchanting Empathy: Because I am a master of enchantment magics that allow me to manipulate the emotional states of others, while I am Cleverly Arcane I can engage a target in a social conflict and if I inflict a Consequence I can afflict them with a propensity for a specific emotion. Consequences such as Fits Of Uncontrollable Rage, Plunged Into Deep Sadness, Gripped By Passionate Love, and Overwhelmed By Euphoric Happiness incite those afflicted to act out in ways appropriate to the emotional state I have imposed on them. If, while I share a scene with the target, a Consequences I have inflicted with this ability is compelled and the target spends a fate point to refuse the compel, I gain the fate point immediately.
A collection of magic system options are provided
to extend this magic system further with things like prepared casting, alchemists,
elementalists, and so forth.
A collection of
sample spells are provided.