To give some context, to my question, I'd like to say that I'm aware of the discussions around the differences and continuity between Fate Accelerated Edition and Fate Core, both on this site and elsewhere (“How do FATE Core and FAE differ in purpose?”, “Clark Valentine on FAE ‘vs’ Core”, “Thread: FATE Core vs. FATE Accelerated”, “Fate Core & Accelerated Editions”).

However, I have noticed what seems to me to be a different default difficulty for passive opposition in the FAE and Fate Core books (quoting here from the SRDs):

Fate Core:

Average is called Average for a reason — if nothing about the opposition sticks out, then the difficulty doesn’t need more than a +1.


If the task isn’t very tough at all, give it a Mediocre (+0) — or just tell the player they succeed without a roll.

Now I know that "[not] more than a +1" includes +0, but I think this rule tends to be read as, "+1 is the default", as I have seen for example this Reddit post:

The "default" difficulty is Average (+1).

My question: Have I understood correctly, that the rules intend for there to be a different default difficulty set for FAE and Fate Core? If so, what might the motivation for this be?

My own thoughts on this question: I'm wondering if it's just part of the general streamlined nature of FAE, or if FAE is supposed to be a little bit more generous on the PCs. In my limited experience of playing Fudge and Fate, +1 can be quite a big deal. Or is the intention of the two rules very similar (0 vs <=1), but the latter tends to get interpreted as +1 being the default?


1 Answer 1


This is going to take some deconstructing, because you're mixing up concepts that do exist with concepts that don't.

Default difficulty: doesn't exist.

Let's get something important straightened out: Fate doesn't have a 'default' difficulty. It's noteworthy those Core and Accelerated passages you're quoting from never use the word 'default' anywhere. That concept came from a Reddit post, not any Fate manual, and isn't useful.

If your game does have a 'default' difficulty, in terms of which one shows up the most often, it certainly should not be as easy as +0 or +1.

The Fate Core & Accelerated advice: it's the same stuff explained differently.

Now, to the first half of your question, before the Reddit quote: what you're asking about is the difference between how Core and Accelerated describe easy opposition.

  • Core provides a lengthy discussion on difficulty scores, suggests that +2 and +4 starts costing the players resources, and suggests at the end that if something isn't challenging, it shouldn't be harder than +1. This isn't an attempt to set a rule, it's just advice.

  • Accelerated skips the discussion and just provides a quick and dirty calculation method for the difficulty of a task. This starts at +0, then sets the difficulty to +2 or +4 depending on whether the task is tough or very hard, or an arbitrary difficulty beyond 'very hard'. Also isn't a rule, just one way to quickly determine a good difficulty score.

Both of these passages express the same thing in their own ways: when opposition is increased beyond +1, a task stops being easy and starts being moderately challenging and may start costing resources.

Neither of these passages say easy is any sort of default. For each task that's going to have opposition or a difficulty, assess whether it's easy or hard, and assign it a proportionate difficulty score. (Consider as well what people are narrating they're doing. Breaking open a steel door Forcefully or with Physique is tough or impossible; picking its lock and opening it the normal way with Clever or Burglary is much easier.) In general, an engaging game should regularly involve opposition that is at least moderately challenging (+2 or higher), because one that's full of pushover tasks is probably one where you're asking people to roll more often than is worthwhile.

  • \$\begingroup\$ As I'm new to GMing Fate I was thinking of "default" as the difficulty you set when you don't know what else to do. Anyway your answer more than covers this. \$\endgroup\$
    – harlandski
    Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 5:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @harlandski Yeah, there isn't one. If you don't know what else to do, you're either over- or under-thinking it, or it shouldn't be modelled like this (maybe you should split it up into multiple skill checks or a contest), or that thing shouldn't be attempted, or etc. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 6:09
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ deoppelgreener has the right of it as far as default vs. easy. +0 or +1 is positioned as what easy is, in both of the things you quoted. I'd also add that Fate Core's default settings for skills tend to result in abilities that are rated 1 higher at the peak (Great) vs. FAE's peak (Good), which I believe played into the motivation as far as where to define "easy". \$\endgroup\$
    – Fred Hicks
    Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 14:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Fred Hicks - that's a really useful observation. Though the premise of my main question has been (justifiably) questioned, I was wondering with my follow-up question if the power levels might not be set a little differently in Fate Core and FAE. Your observation points towards this - thank you! \$\endgroup\$
    – harlandski
    Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 17:23

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