The ship is under attack!

I am GM. My PC is first mate on a space ship. The ship is being attacked by some tiny hard-to-detect UFOs. PC wants to work with the engineering team to rig up some better sensors.

How should I as GM translate this situation into the Fate mechanics?

Part of the GM's job is deciding when to do skill rolls, and when to do something more complex mechanically like multi-roll challenges.

Here is the answer I came up with:

As I read the SRD, the first question to answer is: "should we roll dice at all?"

Roll the dice when succeeding or failing at the action could each contribute something interesting to the game. - When to Roll Dice

In this case I think both success and failure are interesting enough to matter: success gives the PC a cool new sensor tool to fight the bad guys, and a failure increases the suspense of being forced to fight blind. So I will say yes, we should roll dice.

Next question: should we zoom in?

I could make this a single Create Advantage roll, but I feel like that doesn't properly capture the team effort of this situation.

My first thought is that this should be a two-part challenge. PC rolls engineering and rapport, for how well he can work with the team and lead them.

I could also imagine some time component (see deadline pressure). They race to finish before the next attack.

This is my answer to my own question, but I am a newish GM and I'd like to know:

  1. Am I handling this in a good (or the best) way?
  2. Am I misreading the rules anywhere?
  • \$\begingroup\$ This question is probably off-topic in its current form as it appears to be simply asking for ideas which this site doesn't handle well. You may be better off asking around various rpg forums or focusing on a specific aspect of the problem that you would like clarification on how to handle. This site best handles direct questions with a metric by which a good answer can be measured. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 17, 2018 at 16:43
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ @DavidCoffron I think we can advise on modelling this, and that it's not just an opinion survey: there is usually a specific time & place for Fate Core mechanics, which means answers can be measured as better or worse than others. Good Subjective citation will also be a contributor. (On the other hand, I'm iffy on whether we have enough information to do that accurately and can't tell for sure right now.) \$\endgroup\$ Jun 17, 2018 at 16:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the comments. I'm trying to write a question with a specific answer: how should I as GM translate this situation into the Fate mechanics? Part of the GM's job is deciding when to do skill rolls, and when to do something more complex mechanically like multi-roll challenges. That's what I'm trying to get at here. Should I try to edit the question to be more clear? \$\endgroup\$ Jun 17, 2018 at 17:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @emeraldemon: Yes, you should. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 17, 2018 at 17:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Okay, I edited pretty heavily, tell me if it's too much, or any other feedback! \$\endgroup\$ Jun 17, 2018 at 17:59

2 Answers 2


Unless the UFOs' sole defense is being hard to detect, such that improved sensors on their own will render it trivial to deal with them after that, you probably shouldn't zoom in too far on the act of getting the sensors up and running, because you've still got to deal with the UFOs afterwards. A strongly zoomed-in scene should put a fairly decisive end on whatever immediate threats there are, unless the threat itself is some bombastic grand finale of a thing.

Given you haven't even bothered to convey the name of these attackers, they're probably not a bombastic grand finale.

The multi-roll scenario closest to what you're thinking about is probably a challenge, since you're dealing more with the complexities of your ship than interference by the UFOs and they can't provide the active contention/opposition that would make for a contest or a conflict.

But with and for a challenge, Fate Core has this to say:

Is each separate task something that can generate tension and drama independently of the other tasks? If all the tasks are really part of the same overall goal, like “detaching the detonator,” “stopping the timer”, and “disposing of the explosive material” when you’re disarming a bomb, then that should be one overcome action, where you use those details to explain what happened if the roll goes wrong. (When to Call for a Challenge)

So, unless the state of the ship is such that the ability and willingness of the crew to follow your orders is currently a source of tension and/or drama, you probably don't need a separate "issue orders" roll.


I would decide that this is of a certain (maybe legendary) difficulty and thus requires that many sucesses. And then basically break up the task in subtasks - everybody who can contribute can add some successes. The Captain by motivating, the weapons officer by adding a software-routine, etc. First check is still kind of easy, every later roll gets a higher difficulty to show the time pressure.


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