My background is mostly in d20, (Pathfinder, D&D 3.5 and 5e) and I'm getting into Fate with FATE 2.0. I like the system but it keeps bothering me how few rules there are concerning equipment and inventory. I understand Fate is more story driven, but your sharpshooter losing his gun, or the pilot getting a newer and better plane — these things affect the story and I want to find a way to better implement inventory and equipment.

I have read a few questions on here relating to common problems going from d20 to Fate, but can I get some advice specific to how I should or shouldn't handle equipment?

I'm looking to run a primitive setting focusing a lot on survival, hunting and gathering — that sort of stuff. So I would like to be able to track things such as fire supplies, food, if you have the materials to make certain tools and so on. I would like to use equipment in most of my settings though just because I'm used to having it around. Is this a bad idea?


4 Answers 4


Once the game actually starts, FATE doesn't really have to handle this very differently than other games do. You buy stuff with in-game currency at whatever price the GM decides is reasonable (and you can certainly port equipment price lists from pretty much any source if there's one you like). However, the FATE 2.0 chassis allows for real integration with an equipment system, so that the game itself has equipment tracking integrally involved rather than being a sort-of added on thingy that doesn't interface with the real game mechanics. The issues are 1) buying things in character creation (i.e. 'starting equipment') and other areas that will need homebrew thingies and 2) understanding the few ways FATE does interact with equipment already.

1) I give players some default starting cash, a basic price list with some (~10 usually) diverse example options, the price list also designed to show off some cool techno-cultural stuff I'm proud of. I then build the rest of the price list with the players during character creation.

I typically start PCs with 4 aspects and 5 skill points each or 5 aspects and 4 skill points each, but I make sure to give extra resources in equipment heavy games because things tend to be tracked in greater detail and I want the players to have more wiggle room. So for eq. heavy games I usually go 6@4 or 5@5, though for a while we played 8@4 and, while high powered, that worked alright. I'd recommend the @5's, though, now that I have more experience, because skill-point-level purchases, rather than aspect-level purchases tend to be the real focus of a equipment-heavy game.

In the character creation process, I have players buy their starting eq. They each have the cash that has been allotted to them (plus more if they bought it, see below). They come up with what they want to buy, and ask me if they can buy it and how much it costs. I come up with a price and add it to the list. Sometimes I give a particular character a discount on stuff because of their aspects or background.

That being said, at the 4@5 level I allow 1 skill point to be equal to the total amount of starting cash I give, whereas at the 5@5 level I have 1 skill point equal half the total amount of starting cash. I handle aspects in cash or gear differently, and let players who take them fudge their exact amount of cash for a thing (including expensive things with less aspects in expensive then they have in cash) with a check-off or invest cash in unspecified you-can-define-it-later equipment, respectively. I don't let players who don't buy these sorts of aspects do these things, as that would devalue the aspects and lessen the equipment heaviness of the game. Some aspects I let function this way in a limited manner, however, so "Agent of the Kuk Sool Wan", for example, might let you buy generic Kuk-Sool-Wan-Stuff and define it later, but only as something that is actually sold by (or otherwise obtainable from) the Kuk Sool Wan (like their signature dragon pants, or a Korean Straight Blade. Such purchases should also generally be overpriced), or a Classic Car Collector might be allowed to buy a car he couldn't normally afford with a check-off (though I'd more likely give him a Fate Point and tell him to take out a loan), but not other expensive things (he could sell his cars to do so, but that would cost him serious fate points for aspect violation).

Players who pay an aspect for a single piece of equipment (e.g. Serenity, Firefly class smuggling vessel [][][][][] or The Batmobile [][] or Hat [][], Whip [], Gun []) don't have to purchase those specific items with cash, and receive them for free at the start of play. Particularly expensive or rare items may require more than one aspect at GM discretion.


Fate Points have a couple of special ways they can get you equipment for free. This is good and you should allow it even in an equipment heavy game. The normal way is that if it is vaguely reasonable that something might be just lying around somewhere, a player can pay a fate point for it to be lying around. This is more of a player's have more control thing than an equipment is nebulous thing, and it should definitely stay (and will probably see a lot more use, it being valuable pretty much only in this kind of game). Obviously, players should no longer be assumed to have whatever equipment makes sense for their characters but instead should buy stuff. They also shouldn't be spending skill points on individual items unless those items are really important (like Serenity or the Batmobile), and such items should probably also have aspects in them. It's ok if they spend multiple skill points worth of cash on a single item or make multiple skill points worth of money in-game, though.


Fate Option

I would recommend you look at the Fate Core version of The Day After Ragnarok. It is a post-apocalyptic world with rules for single-use and signature equipment as well as vehicles.

Basically, a single stunt slot can buy a single-use equipment item which is good (as the name suggests) for just a single use per session and needs some significant opportunity to be refreshed.

Or you can spend a stunt slot on a piece of personalized equipment that you can use whenever the fiction allows.

Vehicles are intended to go along with appropriate skills, like Drive or Pilot.

Other Option

Fate, however is ill-suited to a highly simulationist playstyle in general. You might want to look at other systems - because System Does Matter. In particular, the high-detail and realistic grounding of something like GURPS might be a better match. Check out answers for other scarcity-driven genres like post-apocalypse and zombie survival. You will see GURPS as well as other simulationist systems there.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Stunts are implemented very differently in FATE 2.0. Among other things, stunts are gained differently as there are no stunt "slots". Could you speak to how to convert Ragnarok's stunt-based equipment to FATE 2.0's stunt framework? In addition, FATE 2.0 is much more simulation-friendly, so you may want to adjust your second section as well to suit. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 2, 2015 at 23:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ 2.0 also doesn't have that weird universal 18 skill skill-list and basically everything about this answer is wrong for the edition in question. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 3, 2015 at 5:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ Huh. I see that I was off a version. I always mapped SotC->2.0 and DFRPG->3.0. I will check out the 2.0 docs and see how I can rework the answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – gomad
    Jun 3, 2015 at 8:01

Fate (any edition) is not built to handle nitty-gritty details. You can, of course, add and respect those details, but Fate won't help you much there.

What it excels at is abstracting those details to the "story pressure" level. Fate does not tell you how many cans of sardines you have left. It tells you if food is becoming a problem, and lets you tell why.

If you want to emphasize tools and supplies in a survival game, the bronze rule is your friend. Yes, it was codified in Fate Core but many Fate veterans have been doing the same thing before Core. It is compatible.

For a survival game, I'd put forward two separate methods. One for tools, another for supplies.

Tools & Equipment

The typical way of using aspects could work here. The group could have a communal set of aspects for T&E, or everyone could have one or two of their own. Remember that aspects are not only for invoking. They are "always true". They can be used to justify actions without providing bonuses. It also helps to clarify that these T&E aspects would have less plot immunity than regular character aspects. They are subject to removal if the plot warrants it.

Maybe I'd go a bit further and make the T&E aspect slots as a kind of anti-consequence slots. As a player, you mitigate stress or get a bonus to your roll by filling in an empty consequence slot. This could work in reverse; you start with your T&E slots filled, but sacrifice and cross them out for mitigating stress or getting a bonus. Just like consequences, you could have different values on them like Minor/+2, Moderate/+4, Major/+6 and maybe Critical/+8.

It should also be possible to find, buy or jury-rig new equipment during play, but these would be temporary aspects with zero plot immunity unless the players choose to use an available T&E slot for them.


This is somewhat simpler. Stress tracks are perfect for representing a dwindling resource. Just define one or more shared stress tracks for the group, and attack them daily and when the story warrants it. You could just define a general-purpose "Supplies" track, or you could give it more detail by defining separate tracks for "Food", "Water", "Ammo", "Fuel" etc…

One caveat: keep in mind that these stress tracks do not represent days-worth-of-food or kilometers-worth-of-fuel. They represent how much of a problem these resources are at any given moment. You narrate the details on the spot.

Don't limit your narration to the lack of the said resource. Maybe you have lots of beef jerky, but one of the characters is vegan. Maybe there's a pristine stream flowing, but you only have one bottle to fill, so you can't stray too far from it. Create tension and hard choices.

These stress tracks are in an ongoing conflict with the environment, so they only clear when the characters get a chance to resupply.

And if the group is taken out on one of these tracks, related bad things happen as narrated by the GM, as usual.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The only concession this answer makes to the idea that the asker is playing FATE 2.0 is the inclusion of "(any edition)" in parentheses, and an acknowledgment that the Bronze Rule is a Fate Core thing (that is claimed to backport). This answer does not address the mechanics of FATE 2.0 and instead solely addresses the mechanics of Fate Core-- FATE 2.0 does not have consequences in the same way as Fate Core does, though the HP system works somewhat similarly, and the system does not have a 'stress track' by that name, though the HP system is basically identical to a stress track. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 28, 2017 at 3:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ The "mechanics of FATE 2.0" were never codified. Even the 2.0 designation was an afterthought. Diaspora and Dresden Files (the original) have consequences that work in the same manner. Can you clarify what bothers you with this? And what HP system are you talking about? \$\endgroup\$
    – edgerunner
    Jul 28, 2017 at 5:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ faterpg.com/dl/FATE2fe.pdf page 36 for hp. I haven't played Diaspora, apologies for the misunderstanding. Consequences (i.e. aspects gained as a result of taking damage) seem very non-FATE, because such aspects would enable PC to perform better after taking damage (aspects let you do better on things and net you fate points) whereas the HP system sets you up to do worse as you take more damage (because filled in high-level boxes provide persistent penalties to doing things). \$\endgroup\$ Jul 28, 2017 at 6:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hmm, from your answer, I have this hunch that you may be referring to original FATE . Consequences in 2.0 are mostly detrimental to the character unless you get very creative. \$\endgroup\$
    – edgerunner
    Jul 28, 2017 at 6:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ I linked the rulebook I use; it was called "FATE 2.0" on evil hat's website long ago when they were working on Spirit of the Century, and the URL lists the file as 'FATE2...' so I'm pretty sure it's 2nd edition FATE. I'm interested in these 2.0 consequences, though, so you get a question! \$\endgroup\$ Jul 28, 2017 at 6:36

I don't mean to be one of those "Aspects solve everything" kinds of people, but I think an aspect named Disarmed would be fine on a sharpshooter losing a gun, or a better plane..aspect... Honestly things like that are less about a numerical increase in how well you can do things and more of a... binary ability or inability to do things. (Sure, all planes fly, but this new plane could fly you through that horrible storm without a single problem).

Remember that Fate is not a simulation game, it's a story game. If you're a Sharpshooter without a gun, you just can't shoot because you're Disarmed, but your sharpshooting knowledge could come in handy at any moment. You being a pilot works similarly, and the story doesn't care whether your plane has three guns or four guns, but it does matter if your new plane has a Stealth Module or if it's Haunted By Its Last Pilot.

  • \$\begingroup\$ for signature items i feel like that would work well, but i would like to be able to track smaller things as well. i am looking to run a survival oriented setting with a lot of gathering materials and crafting tools, and i want a way to reflect how many days worth of food you have, can you make a fire? do you have materials to make a new axe if this one breaks? things like that. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 2, 2015 at 20:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that the OP is playing FATE 2.0, which is quite different from later editions. (That was just clarified as you were writing this.) \$\endgroup\$ Jun 2, 2015 at 20:18

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