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Sword of Zornhau

Realistic Melee Rules for FATE

(Just capturing this while it's in my head. FATE is wonderfully flexible, so it was easy to port in my melee rules.)

Melee simulation using concepts like "penetration" and "armour" falls down because armour allows you to attack more aggressively, and the threat of weapons creates an active defense. For example, two armoured knights can kill each other just as quickly with bare hands as they can with poleaxes.

A realistic simulation must treat the entire panoply as a combat system. So...

Combat area is divided into Zones with Aspects as normal. A zone is approximately room for two people to fight with swords.

The two key melee skills are Fight and Athletics (or whatever skill approximates to Dexterity/Agility/etc)

  • In an exchange, the defender chooses with skill applies to both combatants.

  • Defending using Agility involves Giving Ground if the attacker chooses to advance. Giving Ground consecutively takes you first to the edge of the zone, and then the next zone.

  • For combat purposes, Fight modifies Athletics thus: +1 if it's higher, -1 if lower. (E.g. Fight 5, Athletics 2, Athletics fights as 3)

Wargear, i.e. weapon and armour combinations, are divided into the following grades (NB Athletics modifiers apply only to non-combat manonouvering):

  • Light  (Minimal kit, spear or knife)

  • Medium (e.g. Padded Jack plus sword & shield or spear in two hands) - 2 Athletics

  • Heavy (e.g. Metal armour + heavy sword and shield or two handed weapon) - 4 Athletics

  • Super Heavy (Full metal armour + two handed weapon) - 6 Athletics

General modifiers always applying:

  • Matching grade wargear but better* weapon +1

  • Matching grade wargear but better* armour +1

*A weapon not matching the target's grade is automatically "worse". Within a grade, two handed weapons and big shield combos are better than single handed weapons. Use basic cost as a tie-breaker.

In a clash using Athletics skill, modifiers are as follows:

  • Lighter grade wargear, per grade +2

In a clash using Fight skill, modifiers are as follows:

  • Heavier grade wargear, per grade +2

  • Heavier grade wargear, but facing a matching grade weapon, -1.

Typically, heavier troops can't catch the lighter ones, who can't stand their ground against them.

Examples:

  • A knight (SH) fighting a billman (H) gets +2.

  • A knight (SH) fighting a Hussite (H) with a poleaxe (SH) gets +2 -1 = +1.

  • Two knights fighting (SH), one in plate the other in mail, the man in plate gets +1.

  • Two skirmisher fighting (L), one with a dagger the other with a longsword, the longsword man gets +1

  • Knight (SH) fighting a Skirmisher (L) with Poleaxe (SH) gets +6 -1 = +5

  • A Skirmisher (L) using Athletics vs a Knight (SH) gets +6

If your weapon is heavier grade than your armour, you can attack at the grade of your weapon when:

  • You are part of a polearm formation until an attacker achieves a "spin". (Success by 3)

  • An ally has just successfully blocked an attack on you by the target.

  • You are prepared to attack and defend with a -1 shift.

Special teamwork rules:

  • Being part of a shieldwall raises your armour grade by 1 level.

  • Two fighters can combine to operate as one "effective fighter" of the next grade up. Effective fighters can also combine. Ignore weapon quality. Use majority skill level or median of majority groups. Counter attacks land on randomly on individual fighters. (E.g. 8 Skirmishers (L) = 1 super heavy knight)

Armour stunts (with aspects) include:

  • Half Armour: Athletics as per the grade below. Armour is always the worst within its grade. (This is intended for missile troops not intending to melee). "Bare arms."

  • Superb Armour:  Athletics as per the grade below. "Looter magnate".

Weapon stunts (with aspects) include:

  • Area Denial: E.g. Two Handed Sword. When attacking lighter grade targets, always has to option to use Fighting skill. "Long"

  • Smiting: E.g. Pick. On hitting, weapon does +2 shifts. "Stuck"

  • Thunderbolt: E.g. two-handed flail. +2 attack. -2 defense after first attack. "Sniper"

  • Fork: E.g. Voulge. +2 defence during "full defence", taking defence to +4. "Annoying guy"

  • Barrage: E.g. gutendag or longsword. Each hit instantly allows you another attack on the same target, up to 3 attacks. "Don't let him get started."

These rules support teamwork, e.g. a voulge and flail pairing.

I think that's it for now...

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