by Jacob

Adding ‘Learning From Your Mistakes’ to Fate

For those of you who haven’t read it, I did a post 2 weeks ago on a mechanic in Dungeon World that simulates ‘learning from your mistakes’. By that, I mean that they gain experience points when they roll poorly. I love the idea, and you should read the article to learn why. This article is about taking the same idea and applying it to Fate.

Invasive Surgery

For most RPGs, this would be very easy. The hardest part for adding this to most games would be deciding how much XP came out of it. In Fate, it’s entirely different, since Fate doesn’t have an experience system. It also changes how actions will have to work a little bit, but I’ll get to that later.

First off, we need to give Fate an experience system. To do that, we need to tweak the character advancement system a little bit. I’m going to try to do this in the simplest way possible. All I’m going to do is change the Minor Milestone a little bit. The others are untouched.

Normally a Minor Milestone pretty much happens automatically at the end of a session, but now it happens when you gain 4 XP (you gain 1 XP for every failure). You still don’t get to apply the milestone until the end of the session, but now your XP determines whether you get the milestone or not (or whether you get multiple).

Dungeon World has you level when you gain experience points equal to your level + 7, but I changed that a bit. First off, Fate doesn’t have character levels, and I don’t think it needs them, so the level part of the calculation is worthless. Second of all, in Dungeon World, characters get experience for things other than failure as well, gained at the end of the session (See Other Ways of Getting XP below). Lastly, I decided to lower the constant number a little bit, since you’re likely going to get fewer failures in Fate than in Dungeon World.

Why would you get fewer failures in Fate? Because Fate gives players the option to choose between failing and succeeding at a cost. Even if the player rolls poorly, he or she is not required to take the XP.

Unfortunately, because straight-up failure is so much sweeter now, the cost for succeeding at a cost can’t be as bad anymore. When it comes to attacking and defending, failure is the same, since those two didn’t have options anyway. For the Create Advantage action, Failure is changed so that it now creates the advantage, but nobody gets a free invoke of it. The Overcome action isn’t reworded, but GM must keep in mind that the costs aren’t supposed to be quite as severe as recommended.

Other ways of getting XP

In Dungeon World, they provide experience points at the end of the session for accomplishing several things. For every two of the accomplishments that you, as the GM, wish to reward characters for, increase the required XP amount for levelling up by 1.

First off, the GM can reward characters for fulfilling a bond of theirs. If you decide to add this as a possible accomplishment, then you’ll need to require the characters to use one of their Aspect slots for a Bond. I highly recommend checking out bonds in Dungeon World either way, since they give better ideas than the typical “I Trust __ with My Life” aspects.

In Dungeon World, players are meant to erase/change a bond once, they’re fulfilled, but it’s up to you to decide whether you want to do that or not.

Next, the GM can reward characters for fulfilling their alignments. In general, I would skip this one for Fate. In my experience, the alignment barely comes into play during Dungeon World games, and so it will likely be in Fate.

No matter how many times the character fulfilled their bonds or alignments, they only get XP once for each bond and alignment.

After that, it switches to group accomplishments. The GM simply determines, with player input whether these questions can be answered with a ‘yes’.

  • Did we learn something new and important about the world?
  • Did we overcome a notable monster or enemy?
  • Did we loot a memorable treasure?

For each ‘yes’, every player marks XP.

I highly recommend using the first question; it provides a reason for players to dig into the world and learn about it. I will be writing an article about this idea that Dungeon World does so well later on.

The second question is almost always answered with a ‘yes’, making it almost not worth putting in there. But it does make the players feel good when they CAN answer it with a ‘yes’.

The last question is meant for games where loot is often given. Generally, Fate doesn’t provide that type of gameplay, but that doesn’t mean it can’t. If a GM doesn’t worry about nitpicky loot, but still wants to make the world more real by providing SOME loot, this is a good question to have.


The amounts of XP I listed are untested. On average, you want the characters to level up once per session. Play around with the number a bit until you get the desired effect.


Thanks for reading. I plan to do at least two more sets of articles about things that I like in Dungeon World and how they can be added into Fate. The next one will be about how GM advice and class abilities allow the characters to have so much control of the world. It will be coming out on March 14, so look forward to it.

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