While the Condensed skill list seems to me to be (and its Core predecessor to have been) comprehensive enough to cover nearly all 'adventuring' activities with little to no alterations required, I have encountered a case for which I'm unsure which of the skills would be appropriate to use. That case in question involves the competence at playing card or similar games with a significant cerebral element, such as Bridge, Sabacc, Poker and the like (as opposed to games that are pure or nearly pure chance with no skill involved). And it's one that I expect to come up in a campaign for reasons of both PC personalities and campaign genre.

Ways of Creating an Advantage are pretty obvious - Empathy/Deceive for noticing/concealing tells, Burglary for cheating, Academics for leveraging the knowledge of the meta etc. But what about the main contest? What skill from the Default List makes the most sense to apply for actually being competent at the technical, practical side of playing the game (not the surrounding auxiliary topics used for Advantages), and what is the reasoning behind the choice?

Choices that I considered but am inclined see as off are: Will, because its bizarre provision of also covering intense cerebral effort seems to have been discontinued with the transition from Core to Condensed (one of the few unannounced major changes); Academics, because it seems very theoretical; Burglary, because that one's description implies it would cover an illicit approach to winning, not a fair one. But maybe my reasoning is flawed and one of the choices is more applicable than it seems to me. Or maybe I'm overlooking a different but more appropriate option.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd say "what skill makes the most sense" question is very subjective, hence, opinion based. Could you describe the problem you're trying to solve? \$\endgroup\$
    – enkryptor
    Commented Mar 23, 2020 at 12:58
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @enkryptor I thought it's obvious. I need to figure out which skill to use in contests or opposed rolls when a PC and someone else (N/PC) are involved in a game of Sabacc, Pazaak etc. People usually have no issue answering e.g. that using Athletics for climbing makes the most sense, or using Physique to withstand a shocker hit. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 23, 2020 at 13:00

3 Answers 3


Evil Hat says "Deceive".

You may or may not have known, but Spirit of the Century, the pulp adventure game for Fate 3.0, had its own Gambling skill that was supposed to apply in situations like these - games of chance where it's possible to play your opponent, not your hand.

The Fate Core skill set is a bit smaller than Spirit of the Century's. Many skills collapsed sensibly downward, but some others like Gambling and Leadership had less of a definite home.

In a gambling-as-social-conflict showpiece a variety of skills can still apply on the periphery, as you've noted, but all of Spirit of the Century's Gambling stunts fetched up under Deceive in the conversion guide, including the one that lets you roll Deceive to take a slot machine to the cleaners because you're just that good. (In the original, there is no skill to gamble at games of pure chance, like slot machines and roulette wheels - you roll +0 instead.)

So, for most one-and-done applications, and really anything scoped smaller than a Conflict, you can probably rely on Deceive, though of course substituting one skill for another under certain circumstances is exactly the kind of thing a stunt is for.

But why Deceive?

Well, it may just be reflective of the pulp paradigm of gambling, but the idea is that succeeding at gambling is less making good decisions yourself and more getting your opponents to make bad decisions - raise when they shouldn't, fold when they shouldn't. Deceive and Provoke are both contenders for the "get someone else to make bad decisions" crown, but of the two, Deceive is the one more likely to get you invited back the next night.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This is pretty well reasoned for poker, but would it be different for a different style of game where you can't "play the opponent"? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 23, 2020 at 18:12

GM's call

There is no particular skill explicitly covering card games, that means you, the GM, have to call for a reasonable roll. It doesn't have to "make the most sense", just be reasonable, like Investigate for bridge or Will for poker. If you can't figure it out, ask your players.

You can't choose "wrong" skill here, since it doesn't mean a lot, until your game is going to be a game about card games (in this case you probably should introduce a couple of particular skills, see page 9 "alternating skill list"). For simplicity's sake you probably could choose one specific skill (like Decieve) and stick to it, or introduce a new one (like Gambling). I don't know, what will work better for your table.

It's also reasonable to say that the skill being used depends on the card game itself - there are many types there, every type demand specific qualities from a player to be successful: mental skills (logic/memory), social skills, mathematical skills, game knowledge and experience. Some require memorizing, recall and logical thinking, some depend on pure luck.


Depends on the Character's background / skills

I do not know enough about Bridge or Sabbac to make a definite call here, but in real-life Poker one can focus / play different styles as well:

  • make your opponents nervous / trick them & rely on the opponent to fall for it, despite the numbers (Deceive)
  • play by numbers / odds mostly & rely on the opponent to be worse at maths / statistics, refrain from bluffing as much as possible (Academics / Lore)
  • outright cheat (Burglary)
  • balancing those approaches (meaning if statistics fail, try bluffing / cheating next or the other way around)

I would say, let it be decided to between Player & GM (this applies to Fate a lot more than to other RPGs) after all you want to tell a story on how the Character aims to win that game of cards (or to make a great show out of someone else winning).


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