D&D/Pathfinder style FATE hack – Abilities and Skills

I’m currently playing in a Pathfinder game run by a friend of mine, Pathfinder, for those of you who don’t know, is a spiritual successor to D&D 3.5 released in 2009 by Paizo Publishing using the D20; whereas D&D was completely re-written as D&D 4th edition (an entirely seperate game, my thoughts on which could take up a series of blog posts on their own) Pathfinder expanded and continued to use the 3.5 rules-set (albeit no longer under the D&D moniker). If you want to know more about Pathfinder there is a wikipedia article here. The Pathfinder game I am playing in is very enjoyable, we are from a world where magic has previously been hard to work and unreliable, the discovery of a portal opening to another world has lead to an increase in magical energy, and our player characters are the advanced scouting party sent through to explore this new world; I play an academic wizards apprentice who is fascinated by almost everything since it his first time out in the wider-world, I may get round to blogging some more specifics about the game in future.
Playing in the game has given me a nostalgic longing to run some sort of fantasy D&D-esque game in the future, i’ve run a number of them in the past though and have never really been sold on the D20 rules system, it’s quite versatile and there is a lot of source material available for it, however i’m just not as much a fan of the crunch as some people I know (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Given my complete love of the FATE system (even my wife has commented on how much I like the system, referring to me jokingly as “Mr Fate” on one occasion) and the relative success of my Rogue Trade FATE hack I fancied the challenge of making a D&D-style hack. I’m sure there are probably a number of D&D hacks already around, however, since I wasn’t going to be running this as a long-term game anytime soon I thought that I would take my time coming up with the rules, perhaps testing them by running one-off games during our one-shot Wednesday sessions when it rolls round to my turn behind the GM-ing screen.
Abilities & Skills

I decided to start with abilities and skills, Pathfinder and D&D has the following main character attributes:
  • STR – Strength
  • DEX – Dexterity
  • CON – Constitution
  • INT – Intelligence
  • WIS – Wisdom
  • CHA – Charisma
These attributes determine the basic modifiers that you will roll when it comes to your skills points; basically you work out your final modifer like this:

  • Total modifier = ability modifer + ranks in skill + any other misc modifiers
This system works perfectly fine for D&D/Pathfinder however you don’t really use the abilities on their own very much, only as a source of modifiers; I decided that, in my hack, you would create an ability pyramid (in the same way as skills in FATE core) and this would determine how many ranks you had to spend in associated skills.
During character creation you would rate your abilities as follows:
  • One ability at great (+4)
  • Two abilities at good (+3)
  • Three abilities at fair (+2)
When your abilities were rated this would determine how many skills of a particular type you could have, the highest level skill you would be able to have related to that ability would the same level as that ability, then two on the level below, and so on.
An example of the idea in pictorial form is shown below:
The D&D/Pathfinder skill list looks like this:
  • Acrobatics
  • Appraise
  • Bluff
  • Climb
  • Craft
  • Diplomacy
  • Disable Device
  • Disguise
  • Escape Artist
  • Fly
  • Handle Animal
  • Heal
  • Intimidate
  • Knowledge (arcana)
  • Knowledge (dungeoneering)
  • Knowledge (engineering)
  • Knowledge (geography)
  • Knowledge (history)
  • Knowledge (local)
  • Knowledge (nature)
  • Knowledge (nobility)
  • Knowledge (planes)
  • Knowledge (religion)
  • Linguistics
  • Perception
  • Perform
  • Profession
  • Ride
  • Sense Motive
  • Sleight of Hand
  • Spellcraft
  • Stealth
  • Survival
  • Swim
  • Use Magic Device
and they are all linked with one of the ability scores listed, the layout proposed about would allow 30+ skills at some level possessed by each PC. I’m sure there are probably better/different ways to do this but it’s something i’ll be tinkering around with over the coming months.

8 thoughts on “D&D/Pathfinder style FATE hack – Abilities and Skills

  1. I'll keep my eyes peeled for this one! I have got the Pathfinder rule book coming from Amazon currently, having taken a while to swap over from 3.5D&D. I have always found the D20 system a bit labour intensive when running it, and its leveling system seems to make my games descend into computer RPG style games if I am not very careful with them, so I shall kep my eye on your hack with great interest!

  2. Cheers dude, i've got the PF book, which is well written but the D20 system has always being a bit crunch-tastic for me, loads of modifiers and numbers might be some people's idea of heaven during RP but not mine 🙂

  3. If you like, you can collapse the knowledge skills a little bit. One of the purposes of Dungeoneering, Arcana, Nature, Planes, & Religion is to identify the creature you're facing. If collapse them into: Knowledge (creatures), you can eliminate that facet. It won't help with the other aspects of Nature & Religion, though.

  4. I like the concept a lot, and look forward to seeing what you do with it. As a Pathfinder player who's just discovering Fate, this hits me right in my interest zone.

    Personally, I'd add in some skills that encapsulate D20 "per level" abilities, like "Melee" (Base Attack Bonus), "Dodge" (AC bonus), "Swashbuckling" (CMB) and maybe "Arcane Casting" and "Faith Casting". (Arcane could go under either INT or CHA, depending on class.)

    Though you may just want to make the Classes into Skills ("I'm a Superb Wizard, but a Mediocre Fighter".) Lots to think about.

  5. I'm pretty happy with the skill list as it is and probably won't be collapsing it anymore, however, I am considering adding in weapon/armour proficiencies for attack rolls, I would probably base magical casting off Spellcraft.

  6. I'm thinking of using Skill – Magic, Stunt is the Spell learnt (from a spell book) everyday then doing an opposed roll depending on Creature, Environment or Situation.

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