NPCs and Ad Hoc Skill Modes
One thing I do when I’m running Fate, whether on the fly or planned in any capacity, is abstract the skills for NPCs in evocative ways, much like using skill modes form the Fate Toolkit. This is a simple idea, so a short post today.
For instance, instead of figuring out if some has Good Fight vs Fair Shoot vs Average Athletics and Notice, etc. — which is honestly a bit boring to me as a GM — I spice it up with something like:
- Good “Beating You Up”
- Fair “Eyes in the back of my head”
- Average “Crap With a Gun”
- Average “Not All That Smart”
Which I’d treat “Beating You Up” to cover most rolls in Fight — initiative, attack, defense, overcome, create, all that jazz. Eyes… is good for Notice, and so on. I call this “ad hoc” because I make them up and interpret them as needed, and like to use different names for different characters.
When I use this, I always name the skill, as I found that added a level of enjoyment when I was first introduced to this idea from Unknown Armies. I especially love doing this with monsters, like having a zombie horde with Fair “Devour the Living,” Average “Hit us all you want, wounds mean nothing,” and Good “The Living Cannot Hide.” Nothing quite like saying “I’m attacking with my ‘Devour the Living’ skill, what do you want to do?” to get action going.
And that’s why the idea works — not because it’s easier on the GM, but because it’s fun for the whole table.
Audience participation: Take one of the last NPCs you made for a Fate game. How would you stat up with colorful ad hoc skill modes?
You could also see this as action-based approaches rather than FAE’s color-based ones.
 Expect this treatment in Achtung! Cthulhu.
 I do more with monsters, like tweak stress, but that’s another topic.