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Tactical Combat in Spirit of the Century


The Puncher Strikes!
Validated User
...Pilot would need some more stunts...
Just as a tangent, I hope SotC doesn't start to suffer "Stunt Bloat" like D20's Feats. There's already 200 or so, and it seems people like to invent new ones in most SotC threads I've looked at (or maybe I'm exaggerating, but it seems that way to me).

Rob Donoghue

Registered User
Validated User
I think the "Chase then Fight" model works pretty well, but a lot depends upon the specifics of the situation. The escape by plane in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade? Totally chase rules. Mixing it up with the Red Baron? Well....

So, here's my thinking. A lot is going to depend on schtick, and in a lot of situations and for a lot of groups, just having it be a fight with special effects will do the job, but if I was Jim Javelin, Ace Pilot, I'd probably want a little bit more of an opportunity to show my stuff.

So here's the thing: Most fictional dogfights aren't about making the shot, they're about lining up the shot. One plane is on the other one's tail ("On the dog") trying to catch him in his sights, while the plane in front maneuvers to get out of the way and, if they do something awesome, turns the tables on the guy behind them so their roles reverse.

There's a lot of conceptual overlap with the chase rules here, but that element of changing roles throws a monkey wrench in the works, because the chase rules assume that one side is chasing and the other side is trying to get away, a dynamic that is unlikely to change.

So in a dogfight, practically speaking, you're in one of three positions - behind, in front, or free-for all.

In a free for all (no pilot clearly in front or behind), both pilots maneuver to try to be the one to end up behind the other. This is a contest of Pilot skills, though each side should declare (in order of skill) if they're maneuvering, or taking position. Then roll off.

If there's a tie, the results are inconclusive.
If the winner was maneuvering, they may put a fragile aspect on their opponent or the scene (Something like "Coming out of the sun") to tag for free on the next roll.
If the winner was taking position, they need to have gotten spin (won by 3 or more). If successful, they are now behind, and their opponent is in front - let's call them hunter and prey just to keep it straight.

Once you have a hunter and prey, you can do this one of two ways.

Hunter may now make attacks, using guns, which the prey defends against with piloting. If the Prey ever gets spin on his defense, he breaks free, and the situation returns to a free for all.

For the hunter to take a shot, the prey must have an "In my sights" aspect on him. To do this, the hunter makes a maneuver against the target (pilot v pilot) to put the aspect on him. This is a fragile aspect with a success, though with spin, it lasts until the prey shakes the hunter loose (see below). Once the aspect is in place, the hunter may rolls guns and, if successful, damage the target plane (see below)

The prey defends with piloting and, on his turn, can try to shake off the hunter or maneuver. This works similarly to the free for all phase, with the prey declaring that he's maneuvering or breaking free.
If they prey is maneuvering and succeeds, he may add an aspect normall (or remove an "In my sights" aspect from himself)
If the prey tries to break free and generates spin, the situation turns back into a free-for-all.

Planes damage like people, boxes consequences and all. Biplanes are pretty fragile, so I'd give them only a small number of boxes - maybe none at all.

Minions can participate in the fight, each in their own planes. So long as one side has minions backing them up, they get a +1 on all piloting rolls. During a free for all, either side may declare that they're shooting at minions as their action, and if they win, the opponent loses one minion plane.

<B>Changing venue</b>
If, during a free for all, one side makes a break for it, we've just changed from a dogfight to a chase. Enjoy.


Anyway, this is all totally unofficial, off the top of my head stuff, but hopefully it may be of some use.

-Rob D.

Robert A. Rodger

Aspiring Kermit
Validated User
Anyway, this is all totally unofficial, off the top of my head stuff, but hopefully it may be of some use.
And yet it's getting printed and put in my SotC binder for the day that it actually comes in up in play. Which is to say, it sounds like a good solution to me.


Validated User
Tonight, I ran Dictionary of Mu - Fate Edition, finally for the first time. I already knew I wanted a big fight to open things up, since I wanted to give the combat mods I'd worked out for the Mu version of Fate a good work-out.

So I sat down with my four players - Rob, Lydia, Morgan, and Deborah. Rob had had an awful commute day. Morgan's quitting smoking. Deborah's work exploded. Lydia's day had some challenges in it as well.

I looked at these people and said to myself, these folks need a big, burly brawl, so I upsized the fight I had planned so that it'd last a bit longer and have some more scale to it. This worked well!

I knew this was really lethal and fights would end fast, so I gave the opposition and the main PC some troops -- who were basically extra stress boxes that could get chewed up, sort of like attached minions in SOTC.

Lydia played Kor-Elud, the main PC. Kor-Elud is an amitious young Witchlord who has a tendency to summon demons he can't handle. This particular set-up involved him having summoned Morgrash (below) to conquer a neighboring land. Morgrash was a little too effective, and started out play sitting on top of a pile of corpses one zone removed from Kor-Elud's marginally fortified camp.

Rob played Morgrash, the ever-hungering demon. A combat monster, well-armored, possessed of a devastating area effect attack in the same zone as himself. He was going to turn on the ones who summoned him after he was done with their enemies -- and I said as much at the beginning of the session. This led to our "heroes" turning on Morgrash BEFORE he had defeated the other enemies, which made me pretty happy.

Deborah played Lyra, Kor-Elud's dead sister, resummoned as his mostly-subservient psychic seductress demon. She wasn't set to be all that effective in this fight, but she did have a psychic attack that ignored armor and did Resolve damage, and could use it as a maneuver to bamboozle the opposition, setting targets up with temporary aspects that could be tagged for an advantage.

Morgan played the doomed opposition, which I divided into four captains each with six troops apiece -- this meant that they had a chance of standing up to Morgrash for at least one exchange longer than they normally could, at least. Morgan's dice luck was PHENOMENAL tonight, and as a result they gave a nice, nasty fight before going down -- chewed Morgrash up pretty bad in the process. I also gave them better skills than I normally would for this sort of fight -- I wanted them to be something that Morgrash would have to work hard at to knock down (that said, Morgrash did wipe out one unit pretty much instantly with an attack that did 11 stress late in the session -- hot damn!)

The fight started out with some archers in a forward position amongst the smoking ruins of a village, sniping at Morgrash. Their arrows were like gnats. Morgrash advanced and proceeded to rip into one of the units for several rounds. Lyra and Kor-Elud moved forward from the camp and worked on the other unit of archers. That unit retreated to the fortress, while Morgrash's unit ended up food.

Kor-Elud and crew moved into the ruined village. The fortress's infantry rushed in to mix it up. Kor-Elud's not actually that skilled with a blade -- he usually relies on his demons to do his work -- so this was a pitched battle, and was won mainly because Lyra went to work on the infantry, beguiling and bedazzling them with her psychic demon powers. Ultimately the infantry were cut down and their captain fled the board.

Meanwhile, Morgrash went after the fortress. He walked up to the gates -- and ate them (tearing down the 4-point border I had put in the way). He then went into the fortress and started ripping them all limb from limb. The fortress commander's crew peppered him with arrows, while the archer unit that had retreated to the fortress met its end (Morgrash's 11 point attack made that messy and very final).

Morgrash then walked over and swalled the fortress unit whole (a maneuver; once done, the "ingested" opponents faced his Armor: 4 when they tried to attack him). This was the point at which Lyra decided it was time to take Morgrash down before he was done fighting the tiny men in his tummy. Lyra psychic-blasted him, and Kor-Elud's archers rained arrows down on Morgrash.

Morgrash was not amused.

He spat out the fortress crew and closed with Kor-Elud and Lyra, who were in the same zone, unleashing his Many-Mouthed Horror attack. Lyra, already badly hurt from taking on an archer unit without any troop support of her own, had to blow some serious fate points to stay on her feet. Kor-Elud took some consequences, and then proceeded using his Banish skill to suck away Morgrash's essence. The fortress crew decided Morgrash was the bigger problem and pitched in from their archery-friendly position.

Eventually Morgrash was forced to swallow himself and return to the Void.

Then, Kor-Elud offered the fortress crew the option of surrender. They would have none of it, and attacked. Lyra flayed their minds, ripping away the commander's last troops and setting his eyes on fire. He tried to make a few half-hearted attacks afterwards, but then fell under her psychic assault.

Kor-Elud had won the day ... at the cost of nearly all of the resources he brought to battle. Kor-Elud is a master of ashes.

And that was it. Bulking up and finishing up my prep for this was at most half an hour, mixed in with social conversation. The big fight ran over the course of an hour and change, maybe an hour and a half tops -- and that was with a small pause or two.

Very nicely tactical. The battlefield (pictured below) had a bunch of interesting things to interact with -- the borders were key, as was the use of range. The smoking ruined village -- a band of three zones halfway down the map -- had borders slowing entry into it, and that border also affected the range of bows, cutting them from two zones to one. There were some zone aspects in play as well, though those weren't used as heavily -- the border stuff and zone movement was where the heavy tactical bits came in, along with the use of maneuvers as lay-ups to soften targets for bigger hits.

I offer these pictures by way of saying, "Yes, Fate can have tactical combat -- just the right amount of it, in fact."

Pardon the blurriness -- these were from my cellphone. :)

Rob Donoghue

Registered User
Validated User
Tonight, I ran Dictionary of Mu - Fate Edition, finally for the first time. I already knew I wanted a big fight to open things up, since I wanted to give the combat mods I'd worked out for the Mu version of Fate a good work-out.
Notably, the night's activities left us feeling confident that we could do Birthright if we needed, and left me pondering a way to translate the stats on my vast collection of birthright army cards into FATE terms. Hmmmm.

-Rob D.


Validated User
Notably, the night's activities left us feeling confident that we could do Birthright if we needed, and left me pondering a way to translate the stats on my vast collection of birthright army cards into FATE terms. Hmmmm.
Dude, I'd mow your lawn for a full year if you post such a translation to these boards.
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