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Rating the Four Fate Actions Themselves

Many adventure game systems use the same model for creating opposition: make stats that look like PC stats, and play the rules otherwise as written (except where you don’t because you’re an NPC). We do that in Fate Core, along with the “make an abridged character most of the time.” I cut my teeth on such games: I was huge into GURPS.

The thing I eventually learned about GURPS was I could ad hoc it well enough. “This random combatant is an 11 for everything.” Or “this heavy is 12, except for 14 with firearms.” Worked great for home and convention games, and I applied the same idea to hostile NPCs in Fate. This always sticks in my mind as I chew on the notion of opposition in adventure games—and somewhat codified when I had to give stats to monsters in Achtung! Cthulhu.

In Fate, as long as you know what action you’re rolling and how it applies to your target, you can mix the builds up. My Core character can attack an Accelerated character, using Fight against Flashy. If I generate shifts, Accelerated says there’s just one stress box. If the FAE character generates shifts on a Forceful attack versus my Will, Core tells me to assign those shifts to a particular stress bar—which from context I’d know is mental stress.

This technique breaks down if the number ranges are off, but otherwise is intentional design. And it allows for a really interesting way of handling NPC opposition: rate the four actions themselves. For instance, one expression of a simple +3/+2/+1/+0 scheme:

  • Overcome +1
  • Create an Advantage +2
  • Attack +3
  • Defend +0

That’s a character skeleton that’s good at imposing their will on another—especially with hostility—but not as good at resisting or overcoming another’s intent. Each one being different means you have to consider not just best/worst action, but differentiate the middle two. Other schemes work, like +1/+2/+2/+3:

  • Overcome +2
  • Create an Advantage +3
  • Attack +1
  • Defend +2

That’s a character skeleton which doesn’t do much in the way of attacking, but is good at manipulating the environment and holding their own in perilous situations.

You could build more onto this idea, such as situational values (“Attack +1/+3 in cyberspace”), stunts (similar to using the FAE formula), vary up the stress boxes, and so on to express nuance. You could even use this for some PC-based framework, not unlike how Iron Edda mixes Core’s skills with Accelerated’s approaches in the same game.

I’m sure there’s more to play with here. If you end up using this, let me know how it goes for you!

–Ryan

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4 Responses to Rating the Four Fate Actions Themselves

  1. Rory B says:

    You just blew my mind.

  2. Chris Dolunt says:

    I read this and immediately thought:
    Attack = DPS
    Defend = Tank
    Create Advantage = Healer (Buff)
    Overcome Obstacle = Healer (Debuff)

    Or if you prefer:
    Attack = Striker
    Defend = Defender
    Create Advantage = Controller
    Overcome Obstacle = Leader

    • Ryan Macklin says:

      Interesting. Overcome doesn’t really fit into that paradigm, but that’s a neat way to view Attack, Defend, and Create.