Fate Without a GM

June 20, 2016, 5:53 p.m.

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I recently played in a game where we did not have a GM. You can find the play report here. I wrote up some rules hacked together from other GMless systems I have read, and it went surprisingly well. The other two players and I really enjoyed the game, so I thought I would post them online for others to critique and improve upon. Below is a link to the google doc write up (with comments enabled), and below that is a quick summary TL;DR version of what we did to make the game work. Please feel to comment here and on the document with suggestions. And let me know if you like it!

Quick Rules summary

In order to play without a GM, we obviously needed to change a few things about Fate. It relies on a GM, but not as much as other systems do, so I thought wouldn't be too hard to do. I had been intrigued by the idea of playing GMless for a while, but after reading systems like Mythic GM Emulator, Fateless, and nihless, I was still looking for something that had that core Fate play style and didn't add a ton of new rules. So after thinking about it a lot, I came to some conclusions on how to do it.

  • GM rolls are done by other players
  • Each player is given a negative (GM) Fate Point per scene to use against the PCs
  • Compels always give Fate Points from the general pool and not from a specific player
  • All opposition is determined by the group, going up or down from the highest skill based on difficulty
  • A framing card is past around at the beginning of every scene, whoever has a framing card before a scene begins sets the scene, picks a purpose, location, present characters, and an environment and obstacle aspect.
  • Scenes are then fleshed out through the PCs interacting with it through improv, adding to the scene as they see fit
  • If you ever don't feel comfortable just adding to the scene once it is framed, you can ask the dice a yes or no question
  • Set the difficulty up or down from 0 based on the likeliness
  • Roll 4 fate dice
    • Success with style: Yes, and...
    • Success: Yes
    • Tie: Yes, but... OR No, but...
    • Fail: No
    • Fail Miserably (by 3 or more): No, and...
  • NPCs are played by whoever is not talking to them at the time
  • Create NPCs like this: Nasty Goblin lvl3
  • "Nasty Goblin" is the High Concept
  • "lvl3" determines the skills
    • NPCs have two skills, "Good At" and "Decent At"
    • The "Good At" skill level is equal to the NPCs level (+3 in this case)
    • The "Decent At" skill level is half (rounded up) of the NPCs level (+2 in this case)
  • "lvl3" also determines stress and consequences
    • Levels 1, 2, and 3 are for Average (+1), Fair (+2), and Good (+3) Nameless NPCs, respectively
    • A four and up is a main NPC. Levels above 4 can represent extra stress boxes and/or consequences
  • Some other systems have "Action Words" like Dispute, Veto, Pause, etc. These are useful, but not always necessary if your group knows each other and knows how to jump in and out of context easily. I assume that the more you play without a GM, the less you actually need to use action words.

Let me know what you think!

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Tags: fate core no gm ttrpg

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