View Full Version : Knights of the Vale (Fate, WIP, PEACH)

Craft (Cheese)
2012-07-13, 09:44 AM
So, I had to throw together a quick (but serviceable and interesting) tactical war-minigame for FATE 2e. I posted about this in another thread, but after getting some playtesting of it done I've decided to revise it further, so why not give it its own thread?

You can find my original post spoilered below:

Thank you both for the responses: After taking the day to read everything and mull it over, here's the (incomplete) system I have in mind:

- I'm going with CarpeGuitarrem's idea of extra units being "extensions" of the main character, using his skills and aspects. Each player gets 3 minions aside from their main character for a start, but a player can choose to bring up to 3 additional minions, which costs metagame resources (either Gold or Loyalty, both of which I already have implemented). Each unit (including the player's character) comes to the battle as either a Melee unit or an Archer unit (difference will be explained in a bit).

- Zone system. Each zone can hold a maximum of 1 unit (friendly or enemy) at a time. Units can move through friendly units, but not enemy units.

- The turn-based combat has all the members of one band move (in any order the controlling player desires), then the other band all move at once. In the case of PvP, an initiative roll is made, but in Player vs. GM the player gets to move first (unless I get surprise against them or something but this will probably be determined by out-of-combat means).

- Determination Point (DP) system. DP is currency for actions. You start with 3 points of DP for every unit you control, and at the end of each turn (important!) you gain 1 DP for every unit you still control, up to a maximum of your starting DP of 3 per unit. In addition to all of its other uses, a DP can be spent like a fate point, or a fate point can be spent as a DP. The difference is you lose all of your DP after the battle ends, but fate points can be carried between battles.

- Each unit can move once per turn at a cost of 1 DP. When moving, a unit may move up to 3 zones away from the zone they started. Some zones have the terrain feature of Difficult Movement, which means it costs 2 zones of movement to leave that zone rather than 1.

- Each unit can Attack once per turn at a cost of 1 DP. Some zones have the terrain feature of Combat Advantage, which increases the DP cost to attack a unit in that zone by either +1 or +2. A unit makes an attack based on the Combat skill, dealing damage based on the shifts between the opponent's roll.

- A unit can respond to being attacked in two ways: They can Reposition to an adjacent zone (following the normal rules for movement), or they can make a Counterattack. Though a unit can normally move only once per turn, they can choose to reposition as many times within a turn as they come under attack. Note that the reposition option is unavailable for units trapped in a Difficult Movement zone. A Counterattack functions identically to a normal attack, with two exceptions: A unit may counterattack as many times within a turn as it suffers attack, as with Repositioning, and counterattacking costs 1 fewer DP to attack than a normal attack would (minimum 0).

- Attacks are limited by range: You can only attack (or counterattack) a unit if they're in range of your weapon. Melee Units can only attack units in adjacent zones, while Archer Units can only attack units exactly 2 zones away, and can not attack units in adjacent zones. Melee units who come under attack by Archer units (and vice-versa) cannot counterattack, but they can still retreat. Notice that a melee unit can Reposition themselves to be closer to an archer than before.

- There are two terrain features that deal with range: Cover zones that units can move through, but archers can't fire into (or over), and Impassable zones that units can't move through, but archers can fire over. An Impassable zone can create a situation like a high cliff that archers can rain down fire from, but melee attackers can't scale to get to them.

- The health mechanic is Morale, a stress track consisting of 3 points + 1 point for each minion brought along, with a -2/-4/-6 consequence set. A minion doesn't necessarily go down when they get hit with an attack. A player controlling a minion who gets hit may negate the hit by removing the minion from the game, having them retreat permanently from the battle. (I'm a big fan of FATE's combat philosophy of defeat-equals-disablement, and have actual death be a narrative concern rather than a mechanical one). This action causes no hit to morale. Having fewer units means fewer DP granted each turn, and fewer opportunities to move and attack, so it's a major disadvantage. Essentially, you can lose a minion as a (rather painful) consequence you can take as many times as you wish.

- The exception to this, however, is the Commander character (the PC's main character). If the Commander suffers a hit of 3 or more (and it isn't reduced by taking a consequence), the Commander will be forced to leave the battle. If the Commander goes down or leaves, his troops will scatter or otherwise lose their cohesion and be defeated no matter what. Losing the commander means you lose the fight, so try not to let that happen!

- One final word: Formation Bonuses. For each friendly minion adjacent to a unit, that unit can attack for 1 fewer DP than otherwise (minimum 0), and it costs 1 more DP than otherwise to attack it. Though it's inflexible to fight this way, keeping your group together and fighting as one provides major benefits. The commander being adjacent to a minion is even better, allowing them to attack for 2 fewer DP and making it cost 2 DP to attack them. (However, you can't have 2 commanders so the commander himself can't get the commander bonus.)

I'm pretty happy with what I've come up with (thanks to both of you for your links and ideas, which helped significantly coming up with this stuff), but there's a few other things I'd like to implement if I can (but am not going to stress over), but I don't really know how to best do this:

- Outfitting options for units aside from Melee/Archer. Like having sword-users who have different benefits and drawbacks compared to polearm-users, or chainmail-wearers who are different from fullplate-wearers. Unfortunately I don't have a decent combat skill system in place (and can't really do better without the dreaded character-sheet-rewriting) so I'd have to make the differentiation in range or movement costs or something like that.

- Mounted combat. For now, I have it that being on a horse is identical to being on foot, and I'd like to make a distinction somehow (but have no idea how to do this with reasonable balance).

- Maneuvers and Stances. Really, all the conceptions I can see in my head right now add way too much complexity for way too little gain. If anyone comes up with a brilliantly elegant implementation for them though, I'd love to include them.

- Siege weapons. Yeah the battles are too small-scale to produce this traditionally, but I think about this I keep coming back to the idea of "Hey, wouldn't it be cool if you could sabotage enemy catapults or ballistae or something, and this had an effect on the larger battle?" Again though, no real ideas as to how to do this reasonably. Maybe metacombat effects like the loyalty system?

And that's really it. Thanks again for the help!

Now, today I got a few one-on-one playtest games going with my partner. The system isn't bad, but I learned the system has several problems that should probably be addressed before I present this to my group as a whole. Here's what I learned:

- First of all, the more I deal with hacking FATE to fit my purposes the more and more I learn just how well thought-out and ingeniously put together the whole thing is. There's a lot more going on under the hood than it seems at a first glance, and despite my instincts my first response to a problem should be to look inward rather than outward. More often than not, adapting the innards of FATE to serve my needs is going to work better than making up something new from scratch.

- The Morale track is long. TOO long. WAY too long. I decided to adapt the FATE 3 stress track system for this and used it here for the first time, and damn, did my inexperience bite me in the ass on this one. I intended for the 6-9 length tracks to make combats very short and extremely lethal, but it's actually the opposite: Even the minimum of 6 makes combat an unbearably long slog. For those who aren't familiar with FATE, lemme explain: I'm used to thinking of damage in terms of hit points (and that's how I used it in my campaigns before, not really liking the FATE 2 dynamic challenge tables), where rolling 3 damage against a 6-hit point creature just twice will kill it. However, with a stress track system, you have to roll 3 damage four times to kill (And 3 or more damage on a single attack is actually quite big in FATE, only having a 14% chance of occurring assuming opponents are evenly matched). Due to the nature of how the math works out, skipping boxes along the track very rarely happens (and happens LESS often, not more, when you increase the length of the track), and one/two turn kills only happen at very high power level discrepancies.

- Spending gold or loyalty to bring extra units to a battle is good. So good, that there's little reason to ever not do it because the player with more units wins every single time.

- Too. Many. Damned. Determination Points. The entire purpose behind the DP system was to speed up combat by forcing turns to end sooner than it would take to do a move+attack for every last unit a player controls (remember, there can be up to 7 of these things on each side). Except there's so much DP given out that their restrictive element doesn't amount to much. (They ARE successful, however, at incentivizing low-DP cost actions and deincentivizing high-DP cost actions, which was precisely the intention behind things like the formation bonus: It's better to pick off the stragglers than to try to assault the larger horde.)

- The restrictions on movement mean the maps need to be too large for there to be adequate room to maneuver. I'm used to grid systems where this isn't so much a problem, but with zones it's too much.

- The formation mechanic is too strong, and tends to make it better to just sit in one place and wait for the enemy to come to you instead of taking the offensive. While I want non-rushdown strategies to be viable, BOTH sides choosing to turtle makes for a boring-ass game.

Some of these I have ideas on how to fix, some of them I don't. Here are my ideas for revisions:

- Make the Morale track a flat length of 4 that can't be increased by adding more units. This means, on average, a combat lasts for 7 attacks on both sides.

- Change the commander-defeat mechanic to an implementation that uses a separate stress track, titled Leadership, of length 1. Attacks against the commander deal damage against both Morale and Leadership.

- Change the consequence system a bit: Instead of lowering damage by -2/-4/-6, taking a consequence gives you a +2/+4/+6 bonus to a single roll. This has a few desirable effects: Most important, you can spend your consequences offensively, not just defensively.

- Reduce DP gained per turn to a flat 3, with 3 DP to start off the battle.

- Remove formation bonuses, at least by default (more on this later).

- Reduce movement per turn to 1, with units allowed to expend their attack (at the normal DP cost) to move further.

- Implement all the terrain features as Aspects for greater consistency.

Finally, here are a few vaguer ideas that I'm not as sure about:

- In addition to the Melee/Ranged distinction, each unit gets to come into battle with a Style aspect, like "Pikeman" or "Crossbowman", or "Cavalry". This can be invoked and compelled like any other aspect.

- Change the zone system so that multiple units can be in the same zone, and make changes to the range system to compensate. Importantly, I want to keep the concept of area control, so there should be a way to "block" movement by an enemy past one of your units. Not sure how to do this, however.

- Implement a "tactics" system. At the beginning of each "round" (including the start of the battle) both players select a Tactic they want to use for the turn, which provides a particular bonus. The decision is double-blind, so they write what tactic they want on an index card and then reveal them simultaneously. I have six ideas for tactics at the moment:

Rage of War - Gain +1 to all Combat rolls.

Unstoppable Force - Opponents may not counterattack; They must respond by repositioning.

Hold the Line - Attacking (or counterattacking) your units costs 1 additional DP per unit in a zone adjacent to that unit. +1 Bonus for being adjacent to a Commander.

Reorient the Axis - Whenever a unit moves, it may move one additional zone.

Nothing is Sacred - Each unit may Attack (or counterattack) for free.

Open the Floodgates - Earn 2 additional DP.

EDIT: Edited for readability.

2012-07-13, 03:58 PM
That sounds really cool! And honestly, the Tactics part is pretty much what you were hoping to accomplish with stances, I think. I also love it.

Playtesting with a new system is fantastic; I'm glad you worked through the kinks this way. I'd also suggest this for formations: each formation gives a bonus equal to the difficulty required to assume it. You have a list of formations on an index card, along with their bonus/difficulty value. However, you can also tag Aspects of a military unit that make it easier to enter into a specific formation.

Craft (Cheese)
2012-07-14, 03:36 AM
That sounds really cool! And honestly, the Tactics part is pretty much what you were hoping to accomplish with stances, I think. I also love it.

That's actually how I came up with it: "Hey, what if instead of tracking stance for each unit, we just track a 'stance' for the entire army at once?"

I'd also suggest this for formations: each formation gives a bonus equal to the difficulty required to assume it. You have a list of formations on an index card, along with their bonus/difficulty value. However, you can also tag Aspects of a military unit that make it easier to enter into a specific formation.

I'm confused: By "difficulty" you mean a roll they have to pass to get the formation bonus, right?

In that case, why have different formations? Just let them get a higher bonus depending on how many shifts they generate on the roll.