The power behind the throne. Fate is the highest authority in the cosmos, though few worship him/her by this name. Rather, it is through her/his many facets, such as Justice, that mortals revere and despise her/him alike. As an entity that operates clandestinely, Fate has many forms, wears countless mantles, and has fingers in infinitely many pies. The affairs of gods and mortals, of mountains and ants alike, are all influenced by the machinations of Fate. None know for sure how thorough this influence is, but it has been said that free will itself may be an illusion. Whatever Fate truly desires for our world is beyond our ken, and we may very well be powerless to stop it...
What's Fate? Edit
Fate can serve as a meta-fictional stand-in for the current GM. The convention is that Fate, when adopting a mortal guise, will appear as the GM's character. However, you are free to break that. When the plot requires that an incomprehensibly powerful outsider interferes with the goings of the party, Fate could be just the thing. You may use Fate to enforce an in-game karma to keep characters' antisocial aspects in line, as well. Ever wonder why players dodge just in time, or fortunately remember the right thing at the right moment? Could be Fate! Either way, a recurring and powerful entity could be of use to your plot line!
Fate and Bad Endings Edit
The main method by which Fate interacts with the characters is through the Bad Ending move.
When you’ve lost all your hitpoints or your lust ≥ your HP, you're defeated, and perhaps unconscious. You catch a glimpse of your final fate (the GM will describe it). Then roll (just roll, +nothing—yeah, Fate doesn’t care how tough or cool you are).
✴On a 10+, you’ve cheated Fate—you’re in a bad spot but you still persevere.
✴On a 7–9, you will be offered a bargain or a choice. Take it and escape your bad ending or refuse and enjoy what awaits you.
✴On 6-, your fate is sealed. You will soon succumb to your fate and when you do, you will be gone for the rest of the session, or the next one. The GM will tell you how long.
Bad ends should not end in character loss unless agreed to by the player. Bad ends may result in loss of gear or XP, very rarely resulting in loss of moves or levels. Don't decrease player stats. A GM who bad-ended you may bar you from their sessions as long as they want.
Normally, when a Bad Ending occurs, the results should be appropriate to the situation, and Fate will not act directly or literally. That means that on a miss or a 7-9, the player is punished by the enemy that caused this Bad Ending, rather than Fate proper.
For instance, consider you're fighting burly lizardman slavers:
>On a 10+, perhaps you recover enough HP and energy to break free of restraints, or you fall unconscious and awake elsewhere, either somewhere else entirely, or somewhere you could make a break from.
>On a 7-9, you may be offered a choice between being their new slave for a while, or escaping at the cost of something else, say an irreplaceable item or allowing someone else to take your place.
>On a miss, you usually aren't offered a choice. You're eliminated for the rest of the session and the GM will narrate what happened to you!
Fate Acting Directly Edit
There are instances, however, where a Bad Ending tied to the situation would be unsatisfying. Consider you're at 1 HP and you fall off of a cliff or get stubbed on the toe, losing your last bit of health. Rather than subjecting you to a rather anticlimactic Bad Ending, the GM may opt to involve Fate her/himself. This may involve the stopping of time, transportation to another plane, or a lecture, depending upon the character's relationship with this Machiavellian entity. Fate works in mysterious ways, and may seem arbitrary. For this reason, rolling a 10+ and evading Fate does not impact your relationship with Fate any worse than a miss or a 7-9. Any result was all part of the plan all along.
Here are some things that Fate might do:
>Imprison them, take them to another realm, separate them from the party, offer them an opportunity, give them an offer they cannot refuse, replenish their resources, take what belongs to them, humiliate them, etc.
The player characters are important to the story, so they are most certainly part of Fate's machinations, or will soon be. Keep this in mind when characters become too ambitious for their boots and start acting on a global scale.
The relationship of Fate with the deities and patrons of the player characters is quite important. The existence of the Bad Ending move makes it quite clear that Fate is the ultimate arbiter of who survives to fight another day. When dealing with Bad Endings, be sure to include the player's deity or patron into the mess, if they have one. You might also want to consider involving another player's deity/patron, as well. The Warlock has a move relating to Bad Endings deserves elaboration:
Claimed SoulThis move tilts the scales of the Bad Ending move in the player's favor, and can turn this move into a boon, potentially. It's important that the character maintains good relations with their patron in order to have the full fictional benefit of this move. Understand the results this way:
When you receive your Bad Ending, your patron has other plans for you:
On a 7-9, your patron will be the one offering you the bargain or hard choice, rather than Fate. The deal will be better than what Fate can offer you.
On a miss, your patron interferes with Fate and bargains on your behalf. Accept the agreement and return to your business, or let Fate treat you to something even worse.
On a 7-9, a choice between multiple options is ensured, and these options will be better than the usual losses incurred by a Bad Ending. In fact, these are welcome to offer extra power or wealth or anything else, but should have a cost incurred. Think of this as one-on-one time with the patron itself.
On a miss, this is essentially the patron saving the character from being 'banished' for the rest of the session. It's still a choice, where the player gets to choose between sitting out for the rest of the session or resuming as usual, but paying a cost. As usual, a cost in XP or gold is perfectly fine, if a bit boring and video-gamey.
That being said, there is nothing to stop a deity intervening with a Bad Ending, rather than a patron. Do know that deities are less involved in the affairs of mortals than patrons are, so they likely won't offer much on a Bad Ending.
Fate and Death Edit
For all intents and purposes, Fate has replaced Death, both fictionally and mechanically. Dying is only another option for a Bad Ending, and many characters will be subject to Bad Endings that will not include death. Other deities related to death and dying are welcome, but you will want to avoid introducing a Death deity responsible for the world of the dead or taking souls, for that is Fate's domain. If you wish, you may want to consider replacing Bad Ending with the Last Breath move, from the original Dungeon World. This could raise the stakes but does involve permanent character death.
When you’re dying you catch a glimpse of what lies beyond the Black Gates of Death’s Kingdom (the GM will describe it). Then roll (just roll, +nothing—yeah, Death doesn’t care how tough or cool you are). On a 10+, you’ve cheated Death—you’re in a bad spot but you’re still alive. On a 7–9, Death himself will offer you a bargain. Take it and stabilize or refuse and pass beyond the Black Gates into whatever fate awaits you. On 6-, your fate is sealed. You’re marked as Death’s own and you’ll cross the threshold soon. The GM will tell you when.