One of the most noticeable differences between Fate Core and FAE is that FAE replaces skills with approaches. This is really great for forcing characterization and getting games running quickly, but lacks some of the granularity that skills can leverage to make longer campaigns more interesting.

So, sometimes a group is going to want the advantages of skills in a FAE game, or the advantages of approaches in a Core game; I'm looking into this for one of my campaigns right now, and others have asked me about it for their ideas.

  • Is there one combination that's more reasonable/workable than the other?
  • What are the pitfalls to look out for in making this kind of transplant?
  • What should I look for to indicate if it's a particularly good or bad idea to do this in a given campaign?

To clarify, I understand that in terms of hard mechanics, approaches are basically skills with the dial turned all the way down. This might produce a few anomalies when one is transplanted into the other system, but their effect on gameplay is drastically different. While mechanical advantages/pitfalls are interesting, it's the effect on the players, the narrative, and the game experience that I'm most interested in. How does a "dial all the way down" mechanic like approaches interact with a "dials higher up" system like Core, and vice versa for skills in FAE? What effect might it have on the players' choices and characterizations, or the style/feel of the game being played?

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ It's probably worth pointing out that, in essence, Approaches are just an example of twisting one of the Fate Core dials. They are skills, just set to "Very few, very broad". You can have as many or as few skills as you like in a Fate game. You might, for instance, run a Fantasy game with the skills Str, Dex, Con, Int, Wis, Cha. Without having thing to back it up, I'd suggest that the more skills you have, the more you emphasise specialisms (and that is what you should consider when deciding how many to have in your game). \$\endgroup\$
    – Quentin
    May 29, 2013 at 15:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ A link that might be of use to you- A hack to use meta-skills like FAE approaches. \$\endgroup\$
    – Chuck Dee
    May 30, 2013 at 3:40

2 Answers 2


Approaches modifying skills

You could leverage the mechanism of skills modifying other skills but, in this particular case, approaches modifying skills. Each character would have their set of skills plus the basic six approaches. Whenever a skill is used the one who uses it has also to select one of their approaches which modifies their roll.

When Sneakily striking an opponent who does not expect an attack, roll fudge and add Brawl skill modified by Sneaky approach. When doing a strike and trying to impress crows at the same time, use Flashy approach, and so on.

This will most likely noticeably slow down the gameplay but will increase the granularity and simulationism of your campaign.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Very interesting combination of the two, and probably comfortingly familiar to those who learned in the d20 System. Thanks for both the suggestion and the warning about a likely drawback. \$\endgroup\$
    – BESW
    May 30, 2013 at 5:32

Approaches are mechanically indecipherable from skills. They fill the same role in the mechanics.

Unless mixing FAE characters with Fate Core characters or characters from other FATE system games, all they are is skills.

If using both in the same campaign, you may want to limit one or the other, or the total, to prevent excessive numbers. Perhaps, say, a limit of ±1 on approaches, and normal skills. You also need to figure out if approaches are separate pools of levels, or integrated with skills, and if so, what the conversion is.

  • \$\begingroup\$ +1. Though with a caveat. Approaches seem to model the narrative more than skills. If you use piloting, it is not inherent in that use how you are approaching the problem. If you use stealthy to pilot the ship, it is implied that your approach to the problem is stealthy. \$\endgroup\$
    – Chuck Dee
    May 30, 2013 at 3:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @wraith808 There is no mechanical difference though. You can hack skills into cool-hard-hot-sharp-weird from Apocalypse World, or any other set. Only requirement is, skills are about what you do. \$\endgroup\$
    – illotum
    May 30, 2013 at 3:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @illotum - agreed, that's why I said narrative and gave the +1. It's a good thing to keep in mind, but doesn't invalidate the argument. :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Chuck Dee
    May 30, 2013 at 12:42

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