KLANG! Attack-as-Defend in Fate

I did an experiment in Katanas & Trenchcoats as a way of remodeling flows of conflict: I allowed attacking as a blocking response to attacking, with whoever winning inflicting damage. It works really well to keep action sequences flowing and makes the act of attacking not inherently safe, as normally the response to attack isn’t to inflict harm immediately in return.

So why not throw that into Fate? After all, K&T’s action dynamic is derived from Fate. Let’s call it…

Aggressive Defend Actions

How Aggressive Defend Works: When someone attacks you in a way that you can aggressively defend against (see below), you roll your relevant attack skill against theirs. Whoever wins inflicts stress on the other as normal for an attack action—regardless of whether the winner is the initiator or defender. Add in whatever rules come into play based on stunts, Weapon and Armor ratings, etc.

In the case of a tie, both sides inflict 1 stress on the other. Weapon ratings don’t add to this stress.

When You Can Aggressively Defend: You can aggressively defend when the way you can immediately response in a way that:

  • Can legitimately block the attack in a way that no one calls out as dumb
  • Can inflict hurt itself
  • Immediately have the weapon or whatever in hand as to react in a flash
  • Has only you as the defender (must be a 1-on-1 action beat)

In other words, flashy sword fights, awesome melee duels, and the like. You’d have to be really good at conning me into buying Shoot vs Shoot as aggressively defending, since bullets don’t tend to block and overcome one another.

The third point means that if you don’t have your sword drawn in the narrative, you have to wait until your action to draw it and use it in aggressive defense. This is an intentional shift from the Fate “yeah, you can draw your weapon as part of attacking” rule. Overall, we should privilege the initiating action over the responding action.

If you can’t aggressively defend, you can still normally defend by dodging or whatever.

Major Note: In the G+ thread, we pretty much tore this hack to pieces. There’s some ideas here worth salvaging, and certainly the thread is a great way of showing how a design moment looks.

Make This a Stunt: If the idea of this as a general rule feels wrong, but some characters conceivably have it, make it a stunt. (In K&T, the ability to aggressively defend multiple times is implies as a supernaturals-only quality, and mortals can’t do it or can only do it once per round.)

When to Not Use This: Combat-as-dance narratives (notably swashbuckling fights) are better done when combat takes longer and there’s space for flourishing defenses, parries, etc. So don’t use this for swashbuckling. Indeed, this hack aims to model brutality rather than civility.

Potential Exploit: On the G+ thread, we talk about a potential problem where this rewards creating advantages as your main action, since you can attack as reaction.

Other Rules that Speed Up Attacks

Minimum 1 Stress Even With Armor: If you hit with an attack, but the armor eats up all of your stress, normally that’s treated as a tie in that you get a boost instead. That drags things out. Instead, even with Armor, you deal 1 stress minimum if you succeed at your attack. (If you tie, you still get a boost per the normal rules.)

A Variant: If you have a Weapon rating, then even if your attack’s stress is diminished by Armor, you still deal 1 stress minimum.

1 Stress on Tie: Instead of getting a boost on a tie, you inflict 1 stress, but don’t add any special stuff like Weapon ratings to the hit. You can mix that with the rule above, if you like.

Keep Attacks Interesting

K&T-Style Narration: While keeping the action moving is a worthy endeavor, keeping it interesting is at least as important. To that end, take inspiration from K&T’s “the loser narrates the winner’s success” rule.[1] Make the responsibility of those who take stress or consequences to entertain the table with the story of that action beat.

– Ryan

[1] Which comes from Showdown, which comes from Trollbabe.


7 Responses to KLANG! Attack-as-Defend in Fate

  1. Lenny says:

    This is almost procedurally identical to exchanges from the original, free Fudge hack version of Fate. Heh. :)

    • Ryan Macklin says:

      I guess I’m unsurprised. Fate took on some semi-tactical elements from war game-inspired RPGs as it developed. It ends up being different enough now, though, with how the rhythm of stress and consequences shifted in Core.

      – Ryan

  2. >>>You’d have to be really good at conning me into buying Shoot vs Shoot as aggressively defending, since bullets don’t tend to block and overcome one another.

    Depending on genre, we’re talking. You might have seen couple scenes in anime or movies, like “Most Wanted”, or “Equilibrium”, where were shown cinematic concept of Gun Fu.

    Characters, particularly skilled in Hollywood Physics can shoot bullets into bullets.

    Damn, Poe from “Panda Kung Fu” could convince GM, that he can catch and rebounce cannon balls with his (duh!) kung fu. ))

    • Ryan Macklin says:

      In the case of something like Equilibrium, I’d take that as something possible with a Shoot stunt. I suppose one could take the concept in general as a stunt for whatever skill you’re using, rather than a default permission in a Fate game.

  3. Ryan Macklin says:

    Some good comments on the G+ thread, with genres where this wouldn’t be a good fit and a potential rules exploit: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+RyanMacklin/posts/8jx72bPdAZo

    • Erich U'Mascariatu says:

      Seems a nice idea and if I remember correctly I already used in some Fate games of mine as come off spontaneously in some swordfight.
      And I am curious about how it could go bad but the link at G+ doesn’t go anywhere

    • Ryan Macklin says:

      I just checked the link now, and it still goes to the post on the Fate Core community.