We’ll be using a modified version of FATE Core – mostly, I’m using the Dresden Files RPG (which is an older variant of FATE) that has a more expanded skill list and magic system. FATE is pretty light on the actual rules. If you’re familiar with the Fudge system, this is derived from it. The big thing that they keep stressing is that the characters are proactive, competent, and dramatic, so everything is majorly story-based.
There’s no classes or things like that; the most important element of character creation is the “High Concept”, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like – the fastest way of summing up the character. Some examples would include “playboy genius billionaire philanthropist” for Tony Stark, “America’s Super Soldier” for Captain America, etc. (If you want some help with ideas, here’s a list of some of the expected types of people you’ll find in Atlantis.) The next most important thing are the character’s Aspects – these are personality traits, life experiences, or similar major elements that quickly describe them – double-edged swords are the best. “Browncoat Sergeant” would be a good Aspect for Malcolm Reynolds, or “Phaser and a Smirk” for James Kirk – it tells what is important about them, suggests how they might act in several situations…and gives the GM lots of room to make trouble for them. ;)
Aspects can be ‘tagged’ to provide a +2 bonus or a reroll, In some cases, multiple Aspects can be tagged during a particular check, but each Aspect can only be tagged once per roll. Each Aspect can be tagged once per session for free, but further tags in that session cost a FATE point.
FATE points are the currency of the game. You start each session with a set amount (equal to your Refresh stat), and spend them in several ways (gain a +1 for a roll, tag an Aspect for a +2, or Declare a story detail that goes in your favor). FATE points are regained at the start of each session, and can be gained during a session in a number of ways. The normal way of regaining a FATE point in-session is by accepting a Compel – which is to say, the GM uses your Aspect against you.
Refresh fuels your FATE points, but can also be permanently traded to purchase powers and stunts. (Note that Permanent Refresh points are tied to the concept of free will. If a character drops to zero Permanent Refresh points, they lose their freewill and become an NPC.)
Skills and attributes all have a ranking associated with them – from Terrible to Legendary – that describes how good you are at that skill. Any time there’s a competition (ie, a chance of failure with consequences), rolls are made using the special dice (with – and + signs on them), and are added to the appropriate skill or attribute to determine the results.