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Power Attacks in Fate

I’m playing with a new Fate build right now, one that benefits from being brief. In it, there’s something that’s a whammy: an attack that more or less instantly kills someone. Now, that’s generally not something that Fate does well, since the tone of the system goes away from insta-kills (though I did talk about how that needs to be on the table for Achtung! Cthulhu[1]). I scribbled this on paper, and wanted to give it a sniff-test while also abstracting it some:

Power Attacks

Sometimes an attack will be so overwhelming that stress boxes shouldn’t come into account, nor stuff like armor ratings or other things that tweak stress. These attacks are known as power attacks, and work slightly differently from normal attacks. You still roll dice and apply your skill and any relevant stunts, just as you would for any action. Then…

  • If you succeed, you inflict a moderate consequence.
  • If you succeed with style, you inflict a severe consequence.
  • If you tie, you inflict a minor consequence.
  • If you fail, nothing happens—though if the defender succeeds with style, they still get the normal benefit.

Naturally, if the type of consequence is already filled, a higher one must be used.

Variable crunch handles: This could be a privilege thing that requires a stunt, or is something inherent to the world where everyone who is capable of using a certain set of weapons can just plain do a power attack. And it could be something where failure is a detriment, not just “failure with expense”[2]. But that’s secondary to the idea of the power attack mechanic in the first place.


What do you think, Fateheads? If this seems to pass muster, I suspect it would dovetail in with attacks at a cost. And to be clear, it’s intended to coexist with normal stress-based attacks. Otherwise, it’s not really a whammy.

– Ryan

Image: Sanya V. Litvyak of from Strike Witches. I know nothing about Strike Witches, but after Googling for “bazooka anime” and finding that awesome image, now I want to know more. WARNING: do not Google “bazooka anime” if you’re at work or otherwise don’t want random hentai to pop up!

[1] By the way, Achtung! Cthulhu Fate edition is now in print, as a single volume! I’ll leak a little more about it next week.

[2] I continue to regret not having come up with a term for the converse of “success with style.” Even if not mechanically important, it’s useful for conversing.

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2 Responses to Power Attacks in Fate

  1. Overall I like what you are going for. I created a Stunt for an Assassin which was very similar, which on a successful attack, the target could not use any stress boxes to absorb the damage. That is less directive than what you have designed; which defines what consequence has to be used. Overall a good mechanic for coming up with that devastating (Voltron’s sword) attack.

    The concern I had with mine Stunt and this one is the Variable Crunch Handles. The concern would be creating an arms race for everyone to have this ability in a game. So the crunch handles have to such that its a cool mechanic, but not critical for everyone to have.

    Cool design.

  2. Ryan Macklin says:

    Some good discussion about potential crunch handles on the Fate G+ community:
    https://plus.google.com/u/0/115238641855986579653/posts/3LjjFCaVaw6