Grappling with Fate

First, let me apologize for the spate of Fate related posts. Normally I’m a Burning Wheel guy, but, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m running a Dresden Files RPG campaign, and there’s a bunch of little niggling things that bug me about the system. Not that it’s bad. I’m just the Burning Wheel equivalent of a grognard at this point, and, well, this is my space to rant or throw out questions about the game, or how I’m running it.

Anyway, one of the most-used actions in our game is grappling. As it’s written up in the DFRPG book, it’s a pretty goddamned powerful move, although it takes two actions to do. First, you need to Maneuver to place an Aspect on your target, like Pinned or Full Nelson or something. Then you need to make a Might roll. Assuming you succeed, you now have until your next turn to do a block against anything the other character might do, plus you can take a supplemental action to do a 1-stress hit, move your target a zone, or add an aspect for free. That’s pretty nasty stuff. It’s also kind of a pain in the ass in play, because really, it’s something that takes 2 rounds to do, plus tagging an Aspect (that’s usually free, unless the grapplee is awesome and manages to Maneuver the aspect off). You’re dealing with 2 defense rolls (1 for the Maneuver, 1 for the Might roll), then the free supplemental action. There’s a lot of failure points, sure, but in my experience in play, the grapple goes off.

Now, I should say that none of this is bad. I only really have one complaint about the grappling system in DFRPG, and that is that it’s boring. Really boring. More boring than just going around with everyone attacking, because at least then you have some exciting narration. Choking someone out? Not super exiting.

I said all of that in order to say this: I’ve finally picked up and skimmed through the Fate Core rules, and they’ve done some thing (many things, actually) to the system that I really, really like. I’m sure I’ll post about them after I’ve had a chance to test out some of the new mechanics. But, one of the things that actually could have an impact on my current game is the changes they made to grappling.

Well, technically they didn’t change grappling. They got rid of it. Grappling was always just a fancy block, and they pretty much grouped that effect in with the Create an Advantage action. Which is really cool, because now, it’s a really simple thing. Create an Advantage to put an Aspect on a dude, let’s say Pinned. Doing that justifies an opposing roll to the NPC as long as the Aspect is applicable. Dude wants to get up and run away? Roll opposed Might vs Athletics. Easy, and you don’t have to keep track of how well you rolled from last time (Jesus, that was a pain in the ass). But that gets me to thinking, what about all those other cool things you could do?

In my brain, nothing’s free anymore. I totally think it’s appropriate to have to spend a Fate Point to take any of the other actions. Really, they’re just compels, right? It becomes, “Here’s an FP for a 1-stress hit,” as opposed to the usual, “Fuck you, I’m just going to sit here and inflict free damage until you go out. Cool?”

Yes, that’s hyperbolic.

So, that’s grappling now. I dig it. I’m sure it’ll cause confusion at the table until everyone gets used to it.

Also, I’m sure that this is all stuff that’s been covered before, and better, elsewhere. Richard Bellingham has an excellent guide to blocks and such over at faterpg.com, and you should totally read it if you’re playing Fate Core.

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3 thoughts on “Grappling with Fate

  1. Yeah, I’m all about aspects creating truth in the fiction. If two peeps get into a an argument and one creates an advantage “I’m your boss, give me lip and you’ll get fired” then a the other character can’t simply attack without first addressing that. Maybe they use some kind of soothing platitudes, maybe they overcome the advantage by saying “HR will never let you get away with that”, but fundamentally they have to change their tactics, because the aspect in place is now capital-T truth.

    • Totally. Also, I really dig the new Contest system. It’s not quite Duel of Wits, but it serves the same sort of purpose. I imagine that’s something I’ll be throwing into the game pretty goddamn quickly.

  2. Yeah, I used a contest (chase), challenge (formal duel to first blood) and a conflict (giant mecha battle) in my Camelot Trigger game, all of them worked well. The succeed with a cost trigger is also fantastic.

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