Using The Fate Toolbox for Fate of Cthulhu Games

Im looking at a few changes to the Fate of Cthulhu core Fate Mechanics and wanted to know thought on them.
I will first admit this is my first foray into Fate and I should likely just run a standard game but that is not my style.
My Game group Paid for all my resources for the game so Im approaching it like Professional Gming, so i want to get it just right and try not to make changes midgame.

The areas I have been looking at are:
Increasing the refresh from 3 to 4
Increasing the Stunts from 2 to 3
Increasing both the Stress boxes by 2
and the most radical change would be to go with the Fate Toolkit Pulp Skill Pyramid which goes from +5 to +1 so it increases the max bonus as well as giving everyone five more skills.

If you could break down how each of these changes will effect the game and why each is a bad idea I would appreciate it.

Hi! You’ve already heard my answers, but I thought I would post here with the community to see what others think.

I highly recommend playing through at least one event, and ideally an entire scenario, before making changes to the rules. This will give you a good feel for the system.

Fate of Cthulhu scenarios consist of four events. Each event takes 1-2 sessions to go through, concluding with a major milestone (in Fate Condensed terms, a Breakthrough with both optional advancements included). As such, if you stick with the rules as written, characters will go through three major milestones before reaching the 4th mission, eventually giving them a total of 3 additional Refresh and 6 more skill points.

1) Increasing the refresh from 3 to 4
How long do you plan to run each session? A Refresh of 4 enables players to buy an extra stunt right away, or have a lot more ability to invoke Aspects before feeling pressed to accept compels.

This is a pulp horror game, and you may remove some the tension this is meant to create. More stunts = more power, which may also deter characters from using corruption stunts.

2) Increasing the Stunts from 2 to 3

Increasing the Refresh or increasing the # of stunts is roughly equivalent. Doing both increases the impact of the changes listed above.

3) Increasing both the Stress boxes by 2

Fate Condensed (and FoC) have added flexibility by allowing players to tick multiple boxes of stress, but each box being worth only 1 stress. Players can already increase their stress boxes through high physique and will ratings up to 6 boxes.

This will lengthen fights, and reduce the difference between characters who choose to invest in high Physique vs other skills (somewhat devaluing Physique depending on the challenges you throw your players)

If you are worried about how squishy PCs are, it is far easier to control the toughness of adversaries and obstacles. If you find out you underestimated the toughness of your PCs and encounters are too easy for them, far easier to throw in an extra adversary in the mix, or compel PCs to throw in complications (which also favours them with a Fate point)

4) Fate Toolkit Pulp Skill Pyramid - +5 to +1 (with five more skills)

You are basically giving an extra 15 skill points to players. If you start PCs with such a broad pyramid, there will be more overlap between PCs. This is a huge difference. If you play the scenarios as written, you will likely find they blow through them easily.

As a Fate GM, you should be a fan of the players. You should discuss with them the tone of the campaign they are seeking. You can have a more hopeful tone and have them completely prevent the Arrival, but you also want them to feel like they earned it.

Ultimately, whether you choose to play with the rules as written or hack it: as long as you and your group are having fun, you are doing it right!

Good luck!

The important thing to understand when approaching any game design (even small hacks like these) is how they affect the play of the game and whether that’s intended.

Fate of Cthulhu is primarily an action-horror game. Horror relies on the heroes having more limited resources than in other genres. The changes you’re proposing are giving the player characters more resources. This isn’t bad per se but it will change how powerful and effective they are, moving the game further from action-horror toward pure action-adventure.

Additional refresh means the characters either have another fate point at the start of each session (a re-roll or a +2) or an additional stunt. This makes them broadly more competent than the base game, which pushes things toward typical Fate action-adventure.

Adding an additional stunt doubles down on the above; it gives players the equivalent of +2 to specific rolls. The reason there are fewer stunts for player characters in FoC is because of the Corruption Stunts. As those don’t cost refresh and at least some of the party will have Corruption at the start of the campaign, I reduced the number of normal stunts characters get.

Adding additional stress is something I would recommend against in just about any Fate game, and FoC specifically. Adding additional stress really only serves to make conflicts longer without any added benefit.

Setting the pyramid to cap out at +5 Superb is actually the least radical thing, in my opinion. There was even an early draft of FoC where the pyramid capped at +5. While it adds competency to the PCs, Fate isn’t a game that uses static difficulties. The GM should look at the PC’s skill rating and base the difficulty on that; easy tasks are 2 lower, a moderate task is even, and a difficult task is 2 higher. The net effect is that the game has more record keeping; similar to how early editions of Fate had 10 aspects per character and now they have only 5.

Again, I’d like to reiterate: none of these ideas are bad in and of themselves. You’re the one playing the game, play how you like. Understand that the changes you’re proposing will make the game closer to Indiana Jones than Brotherhood of the Wolf.

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