Fate Core

Advantages in a Conflict

Table of Contents

Remember that aspects you create as advantages follow all the rules for situation aspects—the GM can use them to justify overcome actions, they last until they’re made irrelevant or the scene is over, and in some cases they represent as much a threat to you as an opponent.

When you create an advantage in a conflict, think about how long you want that aspect to stick around and whom you want to have access to it. It’s difficult for anyone besides you and your friends to justify using an advantage you stick to a character, but it’s also easier to justify getting rid of it—one overcome action could undo it. It’s harder to justify getting rid of an aspect on the environment (seriously, who is going to move that Huge Bookcase you just knocked over?), but anyone in the scene could potentially find a reason to take advantage of it.

Cover Fire and Other Impositions

When you’re trying to prevent someone else from getting attacked, the main way to do it is by creating an advantage. You can pass your buddy the invocation and make it harder to hit them.

You could also put yourself directly between the attack and the intended target, such that the bad guy has to get through you to get to your buddy. Then you’re just defending as normal and taking the stress and consequences yourself.

If you want to defend other people without directly interposing yourself between them and the attack, you’ll need a stunt.

In terms of options for advantages, the sky’s the limit. Pretty much any situational modifier you can think of can be expressed as an advantage. If you’re stuck for an idea, here are some examples:

  • Temporary Blinding: Throwing sand or salt in the enemy’s eyes is a classic action staple. This places a Blinded aspect on a target, which could require them to get rid of the aspect with an overcome action before doing anything dependent on sight. Blinded might also present opportunities for a compel, so keep in mind that your opponent can take advantage of this to replenish fate points.
  • Disarming: You knock an opponent’s weapon away, disarming them until they can recover it. The target will need an overcome action to recover their weapon.
  • Positioning: There are a lot of ways to use advantages to represent positioning, like High Ground or Cornered, which you can invoke to take advantage of that positioning as context demands.
  • Winded and Other Minor Hurts: Some strikes in a fight are debilitating because they’re painful, rather than because they cause injury. Nerve hits, groin shots, and a lot of other “dirty fighting” tricks fall into this category. You can use an advantage to represent these, sticking your opponent with Pain-Blindness or Stunned or whatever, then following up with an attack that exploits the aspect to do more lasting harm.
  • Taking Cover: You can use advantages to represent positions of cover and invoke them for your defense. This can be as general as Found Some Cover or as specific as Behind the Big Oak Bar.
  • Altering the Environment: You can use advantages to alter the environment to your benefit, creating barriers to movement by scattering Loose Junk everywhere, or setting things On Fire. That last one is a favorite in Fate.

Other Actions in a Conflict

As stated above, you may find yourself in a situation where you want to do something else while your friends are fighting. You might be disarming a death trap, searching for a piece of information, or checking for hidden assailants.

In order to do this, GMs, set the player up with a modified form of challenge. One of the tasks is likely “defend yourself”—in any exchange where someone attacks you or tries to create an advantage on you, you must defend successfully in order to be able to take one of the other actions in the challenge. So long as no one has successfully attacked you or stuck an advantage on you, you can use your action to roll for one of the challenge goals.

Free Actions

Sometimes it just makes sense that your character is doing something else in conjunction with or as a step toward their action in an exchange. You quick-draw a weapon before you use it, you shout a warning before you kick in a door, or you quickly size up a room before you attack. These little bits of action are colorful description more than anything else, meant to add atmosphere to the scene.

GMs, don’t fall into the trap of trying to police every little detail of a player’s description. Remember, if there’s no significant or interesting opposition, you shouldn’t require a roll—just let the players accomplish what they say they do. Reloading a gun or fishing for something in your backpack is part of performing the action. You shouldn’t require any mechanics to deal with that.

Cynere is trying to get a door open so that she and her friends can escape into an ancient vault rather than fighting off endless hordes of temple guardians.

Amanda says, “Well, let’s call it a Fair (+2) Crafts action to get the door open, and a Fair (+2) Physique roll to push it open enough to slide through, because it’s one of those heavy vault doors. The other action is defending yourself.”

On that exchange, Cynere successfully defends against an attack, so she uses her action to pick the lock. She fails, and decides to succeed at a cost. Amanda figures the easiest thing is to hit her with a consequence because she’s in a fight. So she gets the door open, but not before one of the temple guardians gives her a Gouged Leg.

On the next exchange, she fails to defend against an attack, so she doesn’t get to roll for the challenge.

On the third exchange, she defends and succeeds with style at the Physique roll to get the door open. She signals to her friends and takes a Head Start boost, because it’s about to be a chase…