0 – The Very Basics5 min read

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Fudge Dice

Blue Fudge Dice
Blue Fudge Dice

Fate based systems use Fudge Dice, which are a set of 4 of the same custom 6-sided die. The die has the following number of sides and icons:


How to Use

You will roll all 4 dice for every check and then can cancel out the symbols: a plus sign (+) cancels out a minus sign (-), and an empty face (0)does nothing. You add the total number of what symbols are left such as: ++ (+2) or 1 – (-1), etc. The range of the average roll is going to be: -1, 0, +1,  so your average result will be equal to your skill plus or minus 1, but can have extreme ranges of skill plus or minus 4. =)


A roll of +–0 like the one in the image above would yield a net -1 which would then be applied to your skill for whatever type of roll you were making. If this roll was used with a character who had Athletics @ +2 then the result would be (skill + net dice result) or (+2 + -1) = +1.

Dice Rolling Probabilities

For the numbers geeks out there or for those who like to know the odds, below is a chart showing the probabilities of the die rolls for 4 Fudge Dice.

Resultodds of rollingodds of rollingodds of rolling lowerodds of rolling higher
Fudge Dice Probability
Fudge Dice Probability

Other Options for Rolling

If you are feeling froggy or are just looking for something a little different than the dice, here are some options for you to consider:

  • Deck of Fate (see link below)
  • The Deck of Fate App (see link below)
  • Coins setup with a number of coins mimicking the probability (see link below)
  • Other dice with tables giving you similar probability

Fate Ladder


Fate has the Fate Ladder which has wonderful descriptive terms to provide a sense of scale to the numbers which are used to rate the dice results, a character’s skills, and the result of a roll.

The Fate Ladder Increases Cognitive Load

Note: What follows is really my opinion, so take this for what it is worth. =P

Those of you who have the Fate Ladder as an integral part of your being may argue otherwise, but for most players, especially new players, using the Fate Ladder’s descriptive labels increases cognitive load. There. I said it. It had to be said. =O

Increases Cognitive Load

The primary issue with using the text side of the Fate Ladder during regular play is that it unnecessarily increases cognitive load when determining results. To put it less technically, using it makes each person’s mind work more to get the same results as compared to not using it at all.

To use the text side of the Fate Ladder means your brain has to go through the following extra steps when you are given the descriptive text and not the number:

  1. Receive descriptive text – ‘Great’’
  2. Realize that it is an entry on the Fate Ladder
  3. Convert Text to number – ‘+4’

These 3 cognitive steps are added to the normal process of figuring out whatever it is you are trying to do. It is more efficient and saves brain strain for everyone when you just give the number, in the end, that what we really want to know.

Cognitive Load of the Fate Ladder
Cognitive Load of the Fate Ladder

If each and every result within the game is first given with the text descriptor then the cumulative brain strain within the whole gaming group adds up quickly as each individual player is adding those 3 extra steps to interpret every spoken result. Let us also consider that the person who spoke the text of the result had to go to this process in reverse just to speak it aloud. For a 6 person group that is an additional 17 cognitive steps for each… and… every… result, which can indirectly decrease fun and slow down the game!!

Allow your game to have more fun with less work by mostly ignoring the ladder during play.

Note: As an addendum to my criticism here, I will add that I realize why they have the ladder with the useful descriptive labels and I do believe it is a necessary part of the complete Fate gaming system, but it should be used where appropriate. =)

When is it Useful?

The Fate Ladder is only really useful to the GM in certain circumstances such as when they are creating a scenario or if they are deciding on Passive Opposition numbers, but even then, the GM will most likely be looking for numbers relative to the value of the highest character skill and then adjust to higher or lower as needed. They may also take into account narrative needs for tension in the game instead of a purely mechanical analysis for what the target number will be.

Related LinksDeck of FateFate Tokens (Coins)