by Jacob

Player Control of the World in Fate


On monday, I talked about what Dungeon World does that gives players control over the world more than just during character and world creation. We talked about how some moves asked the GM questions that could aid the players and characters, and then how those questions could be bounced back at the players, especially asking how the characters know this information.

Today, I’m going to give you a few tips to help you add this kind of player control to Fate.


Stunts are often the most interesting part of Fate characters, other than good Aspects. Stunts allow you to ‘break the rules’, per se. It is in stunts that we can most easily mimic the style that Dungeon World uses for player control.

The hardest part about using stunts for this is coming up with good stunts to do it. It can be hard to think of the kinds of questions you could use, as well as how to trigger them.

Coming up With Questions

The best advice I can give is to figure out what kinds of information your character would know. For example, the Dungeon World Bard knows all about stories and legends about certain places and items of power. Clerics would know something pertaining to religion or their domain. Scholars would know about the type of information you get from reading lots of books.

So, you need to think long and hard about the specializations of knowledge that your character might have or be able to find out. Then think about how you can turn that into a question you can ask your GM and get useful information. Don’t forget to add a little tidbit where the GM asks you to explain how exactly your character knows that.


Depending on the potential power of the answers that your character can get, you may not even need a trigger for your stunt. You can just put down that you can ask the question, although you may want to limit how often it can be used at least.

Other possible triggers could be:

  • Spend a Fate Point to ask… (simple but kind of expensive)
  • On a successful <insert specific action>, you can ask…
  • On a failed <insert specific action>, you can ask…
  • Whenever <someone, or a broad group of someones> does <something>, you can ask…
  • When you are compelled, you can ask…

These triggers should make sense with the question that is asked.

GM Work

There are some things that a GM can do to help out and make it easier to give players control over the world their characters inhabit.

First off, I would suggest possibly giving every player a free one of the stunts talked about earlier. After that, it gets a little tougher.

Scene Creation

You can apply a combination of a Fate “ninja GM trick” and a trick from Dungeon World to help you make scenes more interesting. The trick from the Fate Core rulebook is to use the players to help set up the scene. Dungeon World trick is to ask specific questions to help players build the world.

For example, say that the party is about to meet with a fairly influential ally, you can ask the players, “As you wait for your turn to talk to the chancellor, you see that the person currently talking to him is someone you never expected the chancellor to talk to. Who is it? What little snippet of conversation do you just barely catch?”

In Dungeon World, these types of questions are only supposed to be for initial campaign creation, but there’s no reason not to use them more. The reason you have to ask specific questions like that is to avoid choice paralysis. If you leave something completely wide open, players’ minds freeze up, thinking about all the possibilities.

These don’t necessarily have to be just to open scenes; they can be used to insert something new to a scene as well.

And don’t forget to use compels liberally.

That’s All, Folks

That’s all I’ve got for this technique. I hope you find the tips helpful.

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