D20-FATE "Vortex" P.C. template

Gene D.'s latest streamlined house rules, spring 2014


Player Character:


  • Game Master: Gene D.
  • Rules systems: D20, Fantastic Adventures in Tabletop Entertainment (FATE)
  • Date revised:

Aspects (can use a Fate point to tag for +1d6 or a reroll on 1d20 for skills, plus compels; gain one Aspect or +1 to one attribute every 10 sessions or 2 levels):

  • Origin (species/race/nationality/homeworld):
  • Occupation/level (class/subclass/archetype; Lvl. = sessions divided by 5):
  • Trouble/foibles:
  • Guest star (not a fellow party member or follower):
  • Motivation (alignment/allegiance/personality):
  • Adventuring/reputation:
  • Additional aspects:

Attributes (roll 4d6, drop the lowest, reroll 1s; modified by origin, usually +/- 2):

  • Strength (x5 = max carry, x10 = max lift; to dam.): XX
  • Dexterity (x2 = ft. per round; to initiative): XX
  • Constitution: XX
  • Intelligence: XX
  • Wisdom: XX
  • Charisma: XX

Adjustments (note that this has changed slightly):

Score Penalty/Bonus
1-3 -3
4-5 -2
6-8 -1
9-11 0
12-14 +1
15-17 +2
18-20 +3
21-23 +4

Hit Points (by occupation, start at max, plus Con bonus, + 1 hit die per every five sessions): XX

  • Explorer (Clerics and scouts): 1d8
  • Mystic (Wizards and scientists): 1d4
  • Trader (Rogues and scoundrels): 1d6
  • Warrior: (Fighters and soldiers): 1d10

Base Attack Bonus (on 1d20 to hit, +1 every 10 sessions or 2 levels): XX

Armor Class (see also Dex bonus, equipment): XX

  • 10-11: None, regular clothing
  • 12: Padded (max nonmagical for Mystics or -4 penalty)
  • 13: Leather or hide
  • 14: Studded leather or ring mail (max for Traders without -4 penalty)
  • 15: Banded or chain (-1 on Endurance/Fortitude)
  • 16: Scale or splint (-1 on all Acrobatics/Reflex)
  • 17: Plate mail (-2 on all Dex checks)
  • 18: Full plate (-3 on all Dex, Endurance)
  • +1: Shield
  • +2: Large shield (but -2 on Dex/Reflex, cumulative)

Skills (on 1d20, plus attribute bonus; 10 points to start with, plus one per session or 5 pts. per level; total ranks limited to level)

  • Acrobatics (Dex/Reflex; incl. escape artist, fly, tightrope, tumble):
  • Animal Handling (Wis; ride):
  • Area Knowledge (Int; by region; geography, history, law/politics):
  • Athletics (Str; climb, fly, jump, lift):
  • Craft (Dex/Int; specialize by creation, e.g. alchemy, armory, cooking, create magic items, herbalism, poisons, weapon smith):
  • Deception (Cha; bluff, disguise):
  • Diplomacy (Cha; bargaining, etiquette, persuasion, taunt):
  • Devices (Dex; constructs, locks, traps, vehicle mechanic):
  • Endurance (Con/Fortitude; physique/stamina, run, swim):
  • Engineering (Int.; architecture, dungeoneering, siege engines, power systems):
  • Gaming (Int; card, tabletop, gambling, strategy):
  • Intimidation (Str; instead of Diplomacy):
  • Leadership (Cha; ranks = total follower levels, but must be 2 levels lower than P.C.):
  • Linguistics (Int; 1 pt. per language beyond native; incl. decipher script, forgery):
  • Martial Arts (Dex; unarmed combat, stacks with BAB, one maneuver cluster per rank):
  • Medicine (Int/Wis; heal):
  • Melee (Str; hand-to-hand weapons, stacks with BAB):
  • Mysteries (Int or Wis; need to use arcane/divine/psionic/super powers; ranks equal total castable levels per day):
  • Perception (Wis; empathy/sense motive, notice, search):
  • Perform (Cha, etc.; by artistic medium, incl. acting, dance, painting, sculpture, music, poetry):
  • Profession (Int/Wis; nonadventuring activity; e.g., appraisal):
  • Resolve (Wis/Will; concentration, to cast under stress):
  • Science/tech (Int; lore, by specialty, such as biology/nature, computers):
  • Shooting (Dex; ranged weapons, stacks with BAB):
  • Sleight of Hand (Dex; holdout):
  • Stealth (Dex; follow, hide in shadows, move silently):
  • Streetwise (Cha; contacts/gather info, rapport):
  • Survival (Wis; incl. tracking; by terrain):
  • Vehicles (Dex; drive/pilot, by type/medium):
  • Warfare (Int; fighting, tactics, strategy, weaponry):

By attribute:

  • Str: Athletics, Intimidation, Melee
  • Dex: Acrobatics, Craft, Devices, Martial Arts, Shooting, Sleight of Hand, Stealth, Vehicles
  • Con: Endurance
  • Int: Area Knowledge, Craft, Engineering, Gaming, Linguistics, Medicine, Mysteries, Profession, Science, Warfare
  • Wis: Animal Handling, Medicine, Mysteries, Perception, Profession, Resolve, Survival
  • Cha: Deception, Diplomacy, Leadership, Perform, Streetwise

Stunts (race/class abilities, skill specializations/feats and attribute swaps, spells, signature items, superpowers, etc.; provide citations):

  • Refresh (out of initial total of 6 Fate points, can be used to tag an aspect, make a declaration, or activate a stunt; plus 1 every 10 sessions or 2 levels): XX
  • Spells/powers (1 stunt slot per level of castable spells; save DC = 10 + spell level + 1/2 character level):


Weapons (by range/reach, damage, qualities):

  • Ranged (and ammunition):
  • Melee (+Str bonus to damage):


  • Gender:
  • Date of birth/age (and date created):
  • Eyes:
  • Hair:
  • Complexion:
  • Height:
  • Weight:
  • Languages:
  • Appearance/mannerisms:
  • Image links:


  • Magic/empowered items:
  • Clothing, armor:

  • Occupational tools:
  • Rations:
  • Other gear:
  • Animals/transport:
  • Money:
  • Advancement:
    • Every session: 1 skill point
    • Every five sessions (D20 level): +1 hit die
    • Every 10 sessions +1 to Base Attack Bonus and +1 Refresh, as well as +1 Aspect or Attribute

Bio/background (include upbringing, hobbies, goals; see also Aspects):

15 January 2014: Fellow role-players, as you may know, I’ve been tinkering with a D20-FATE hybrid, and here are some of my latest thoughts.

Why D20-FATE?
Back in the 1980s in New York, I ran the “BECMI” edition of Dungeons & Dragons and AD&D1 and 2, and I played other tabletop games of that era. In the 1990s in Virginia, I mostly ran GURPS 3e for various genres and played Storyteller: World of Darkness.

In the 2000s here in Massachusetts, we played D&D3.x and various systems based on the D20 Open Game License. In the past few years, we’ve had some success with indie rules sets such as Fantastic Adventures in Tabletop Entertainment (FATE) and Savage Worlds. Nowadays, I’m less interested in buying or memorizing hundreds of pages of rules (even as D&D5/“Next” approaches). I also want to balance character customization with ease of prep and play.

My current house rules for the Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game retro-clone reflect my experiences and personal preferences, and they may not necessarily match your ideal systems. That said, I’m always open to suggestions.

Design goals
In addition to supporting my long-running campaigns, including the fantasy “Vanished Lands,” the “S.J.I.” superheroes, and the “Vortex” space opera, I’d like my D20-FATE hybrid to be broadly backward-compatible to ease conversion of existing characters.

In the “Vanished Lands” alone, there have been nearly 400 Player Characters in 40 adventuring parties over the past 30+ years! As a result, I’d like to streamline my existing house rules but still have them be recognizable to anyone who has played AD&D1, GURPS 3e Steampunk, or Mutants & Masterminds through Starblazer Adventures.

In some cases, that means keeping familiar conventions, such as Armor Class, Hit Points, and somewhat granular skills. On the other hand, I’ve also tried to incorporate some of the simplicity and storytelling support of FATE. Highlights of the above include the following:

  • Familiar D20 rolls for skills and combat
  • FATE-based aspects, refresh, and stunts
  • Steady advancement
  • Gone or consolidated: Lots of race/class abilities, saving throws, attacks of opportunity, etc.

As you can see, this is a bit simpler than the “BFRPG”-FATE mashups we’ve been using for “Vistel’s Circus” and “A New Dawn” in the “Vanished Lands,” and it should still allow for character customization, use of existing equipment, and narrative flexibility.

Josh has suggested incorporating ideas from other hybrids, such as FATE Freeport, Pathfinder: Saga, or Lorefinder. While I understand how FATE Core could substitute aspects for skills and use a stress track rather than HP, they feel a bit broad for my campaigns.

When we played “Vortex,” I found that I missed the distinctions between types of weapons and gear, and in “BFRPG,” I know a few of you miss specific skills. What do all of you think?

  • Homeland/nationality:
  • Religion/alignment:


Adventuring party:

D20-FATE "Vortex" P.C. template

Vortex GeneD5