Fate reST Edition

Author: Nick Moffitt <nick@zork.net>


Fate is a fantastic FUDGE-derived RPG system from Robert Donoghue and Fred Hicks. It solves much of the "toolkit without a blueprint" nature of FUDGE while maintaining the ability to build whatever you want with it. The secret is its use of narrative-oriented "Aspects" in place of traditional D20-style "Attributes" or "Characteristics".

Gifts From Above

For a long time, the distribution of Fate's rulebook was considered to be limited by the constraints put on it by the FUDGE License. In 2005, first FUDGE and then Fate moved to the "Open Game License", or "OGL". The OGL is like a BSD license that marks off certain portions of the work as "Open Game Content" and other portions as "Product Identity".

The Open Game Content is the "free as in speech" portion, and the "Product Identity" is the proprietary content including trademarks and other non-redistributable material. The copy of a work that is entirely "Open Game Content" is referred to as the "System Reference Document", or SRD. The Fate SRD was released to much applause and fanfare on 31 March 2005, in the form of a Rich Text Format document.

One of the drawbacks to Fate's traditional release only in a beautifully laid-out PDF form was the lack of an easy-to-reference HTML version. I thus spent the weekend after the release of the SRD marking it up in reStructuredText so that various pretty output formats could be generated from a single plain ACII text version that reads as easily as any e-mail.


Here are the documents themselves:

  • The Plain-Text Version is the "source code" document, and all changes are made to this copy so that the other formats can be generated from it. It is strictly 7-bit ASCII text, formatted so that it can be easily read: most "markup" appears visually in a way that hints at the final layout.

  • The HTML Version is a handy "live" reference. It uses several Unicode characters to recreate some of the visual effects of the original PDF, so it may not render properly if your browser cannot handle UTF-8. In particular, these are: ❏ ✓ ✔ ❍ ⊞ ⊟ □

  • The PDF is generated with LATEX, and thus is a little more spare than the old official PDF. All the same, it is handy if you want a printed version of the rules. The Unicode characters generated from the Plain-Text Version have all been included in the inline PostScript fonts, so nothing special should be required to view them.

    The PDFs come in two paper sizes.
    • Letter (US standard: 8.5" x 11")
    • A4 (European standard)


If you're interested in working on this, all you need is the Plain-Text Version and maybe the Makefile and stylesheet. However, coordination of development efforts can be much easier if you have the darcs revision control system. To check out a copy of the Fate reST working tree, simply:

darcs get http://zork.net/~nick/loyhargil/fate-srd-rest/

Once you have it checked out, you can then darcs record your changes and even darcs send them to me if you wish to see them reflected in this repository.

Note that nearly all of these tools I list are Unix-biased (that means Linux, BSD, Mac OSX, etc). Fortunately there are not many non-Unix Operating Systems left in the world, and Microsoft Windows is probably the last to resist this trend. That said, all of the tools I mention report to run under Microsoft Windows if you spend a little time getting them set up.

I can't help much with the details of non-Unix systems, but I can recommend Ubuntu as a fine user-friendly GNU/Linux distribution that runs smoothly on PCs and Macintoshes alike. All of the tools used here are available via the Ubuntu or Debian packaging system if you install the following packages: