Bulldogs! was written before the latest iteration of Fate, Fate Core (Evil Hat Productions, 2013). The latter brought some definite improvements in the way Fate worked, particularly a simplification of of the types of actions available and opening a range of success levels rather than simple pass-fail, so Edmund has announced his intention to update the rules to Fate Core. As a result, we're sure to have a number of house rules posted here.


For purposes of this document I assume that you have access to a PDF of the Fate Core rules and Bulldogs! This document mostly follows the Fate Core rules, with a few departures.

  1. Come up with your character’s High Concept and Trouble aspects
  2. Name your character
  3. Choose your heritage aspects
  4. Describe your character’s homeworld
  5. Describe the adventure or incident that convinced your character that signing on as a Bulldog was a good idea.
  6. For each of these three experiences, write one Aspect for your character
  7. Choose one additional Aspect for your character
  8. Skills: choose and rate your skills
  9. Stunts: choose or invent three to five stunts
  10. Refresh: determine your character’s refresh
  11. Stress and Consequences: determine how much of a beating your character can take.

High Concept And Trouble

Your High Concept is a phrase that sums up what your character is all about - who the character is and what the character does. It is an Aspect — one of the first and most important for your character.

A good way to think of your High Concept is as a description encompassing your character’s role in the campaign. So if you want your character to be a pilot, then “pilot” should be part of your High Concept. Your species should also be part of your High Concept, so if you want to play a Templar then your High Concept might be “Templar Pilot”. Finally, you might want to add a descriptor of some sort to set your character apart or make it unique. For example, “Neurotic Templar Pilot”, “Singing Templar Pilot”. “Aged Templar Pilot” or “Transvestite Templar Pilot”.

Something to bear in mind when creating your High Concept is that as an aspect you will want to be able to both “invoke” it (use it to give yourself a boost on certain rolls) and “compel” it (use it to get into trouble and earn Fate points). Because of this, you should think about not only how your High Concept can benefit you, but how it can get you in trouble as well.

In addition to a High Concept, every character has some sort of Trouble aspect that is part of the character’s life and story. Trouble is something that complicates your character’s existence and drives the character into “interesting” situations.

Trouble comes in two types — personal struggles and problematic relationships —

  • Personal struggles are about bad habits and impulses that are difficult to control
  • Problematic relationships are about people or organizations that make your life hard.

Trouble should not be directly related to your character’s High Concept. If you are playing a Templar, for example, your Trouble shouldn’t be “Saldrallans Hate Me” — that’s dull trouble in any event, and pretty much covered already by the fact that you are a Templar. You can, however, crank it up a notch and make it personal, so “Grand Moff Hsst, lord of Coil and Scale wants me dead” is perfectly fine.

Name Your Character

Yes, I know — this always drives so many, many players nuts. Don’t stress too much over it — there are lists in Bulldogs! and they are included on the Species page. Pick a name. Put it on the character sheet. *WHEW!* - you’re done with that now. Take a deep breath, let it out slowly, and congratulate yourself on a job well done.

Heritage Aspects

The Aspects listed in the species package are common for that particular species. Pick two of them. They are considered Extras.

Describe Your Character’s Homeworld

Write a brief paragraph or two about your character’s homeworld. Since this is space opera, you can make it zany and un-scientific if you want. You don’t need to go into every little detail — the purpose here is to add a little color to your character’s background and potentially provide the GM with a location for future adventures.
Once you have written a little bit about your homeworld, come up with an Aspect for your character based on the character’s homeworld.

Example: the Kruyter system is entirely asteroids — there are no planets at all. My character grew up living in sealed environments that were always being threatened with asteroid strikes. Most of the major metal deposits were long ago mined out, so civilization on Kruyter exists on a very tight budget, so every citizen learns the basics of damage control and simple repair from an early age, and wealth and status in society are indicated by the number and quality of the tools on one’s tool belt. It is considered a great social blunder to go anywhere on Kruyter without an immense tool belt, and to touch another person’s tool belt without permission is grounds for a duel.
Aspect: Immense ceremonial toolbelt.

Describe The Adventure Or Incident That Made You Sign Up

Most people do not decide to sign a 5-year contract delivering D-class cargo around the galaxy without a good reason. Spend a few minutes describing what sort of situation you got into that made you think that becoming a Bulldog was preferable to whatever other things you might have wanted to spend the next five years doing. This will help flesh out your character and provide the GM with some additional background to work with.
Once you have written at least a couple of sentences, write an Aspect pertaining to whatever it is that caused you to sign up. Note that this is not specifically a Trouble Aspect, so it should be written and interpreted in such a way that it can have both positive and negative effects.

Example: Character used to be a Made Man in the Comet mob, but screwed up an important job and now Don Zardo has put a price on his head.
Aspect: Former Made Man of the Comet Mob

Choose One Additional Aspect For Your Character

This can be pretty much anything that fits the genre.

Choose Your Skills

Choose from the following

  • One Great (+4)
  • Two Good (+3)
  • Three Fair (+2)
  • Four Average (+1)

from the list below.

Skill Overcome Create an
Attack Defend
Athletics X X X
Burglary X X
Contacts X X X
Deceive X X X
Drive X X X
Empathy X X X
Engineering X X
Fight X X X X
Gunnery X X X
Lore X X
Notice X X X
Physique X X X
Pilot X X X
Provoke X X X
Psychic X X X X
Rapport X X X
Resources X X
Shoot X X X
Stealth X X X
Will X X X

Italicised skills cannot be used unless the character takes them at Average or above. Taking the skill “Psychic” reduces the character’s Refresh by 1.


Psychic abilities in Bulldogs! are mostly just another skill that you use to solve problems. There are a few special rules, discussed below.

First, when taking the ability Psychic, decide what kind of psychic you are. This will give you a picture of what your psychic abilities are like and what they can do. Typical psychic abilities are —

  • Emotion projection
  • Telepathy
  • Telekinesis
  • Clairvoyance
  • Illusion projection
  • Precognition
  • Pyrokinesis

Once you have decided the "flavor" of your psychic abilities, pick one of the four basic actions that your psychic ability can't do. You can use your psychic abilities just like any other skill to perform any of the other three sorts of action.

With your psychic ability, you get an additional stress track labeled "psychic". It has a number of boxes equal to your character's Willpower bonus. So if your Willpower is +3 it will have 3 boxes (numbered, appropriately enough, "1", "2", and "3"). These boxes work just like regular stress boxes except that they only absorb damage from psychic attacks against you and feedback from your own failed psychic attacks.

When you roll your Psychic skill and fail, you take damage equal to the margin of failure. So if you fail by 3 points, you take 3 points of psychic stress. This stress can only be absorbed by your psychic stress track. If your psychic stress track fills up and you keep accumulating psychic stress, then you start taking consequences as usual. Psychic stress recovers just like physical and mental stress.

When you are the target of a damaging psychic attack, you may take the damage using your psychic track in addition to your physical or mental track. This represents the training you have had to resist mental attacks.

Choose Three To Five Stunts

Unless specified as “optional”, all species stunts are required. This may leave you with your Refresh reduced — remember that your first three stunts are free.

Actually you don’t have to take any optional stunts, species-related or not — you can get them during play if you must. I recommend taking at least one, just so you don’t forget what stunts are, and ideally you you should take three. You can take up to five, but every stunt over three reduces your Refresh by 1 point.
Bulldogs! has a good discussion of how to create stunts and a selection of ready-made stunts starting on p. 107.

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