Fate is a fairly unique roleplaying system. One of its more interesting aspects is that it’s wide open in terms of character creation. This, interestingly, generally seems to lead to people making characters that don’t typically fill one of the usual RPG roles of Defender/Tank, Striker/DPS, Controller, or Leader/Healer. Actually, it does tend to have most people making Strikers.
My recent-ish post about the Intercept action led me to realize this. It also made me realize that I kind of miss those set character roles. So I decided to come up with some stunts that players can take to attempt to fill those shoes.
In this post, I’ll just be focusing on the Tank role. There are two main focuses of the tank: 1) They can take quite a beating, and 2) They keep damage off of their allies. Let’s address each individually:
Taking a Beating
Taking a beating is split up into two main categories: actually taking the beating, but surviving well; and avoiding taking damage.
Suck It Up
Being tough and taking a beating are strongly tied to the Physique skill, which is generally used as a toughness or constitution meter, among other related things. The Fate Core book provides two good default stunts already that help with this: Take the Blow and Tough as Nails.
Take the Blow: You can use Physique to defend against Fight attacks made with fists or blunt instruments, though you always take 1 shift of stress on a tie.
Tough as Nails: Once per session, at the cost of a fate point, you can reduce the severity of a moderate consequence that’s physical in nature to a mild consequence (if you mild consequence slot is free), or erase a mild consequence altogether.
Those two work pretty well, in my opinion, but that’s not many. Here’s a couple from the Dresden Files RPG:
No Pain, No Gain: You may take one additional mild physical consequence.
Tough Stuff: You have a natural Armor: 1 (which can stack with other forms of protection) against fists or blunt instruments.
Both of those seems to be thinking along the same line as the two from Fate Core, but with slightly different effects.
If you want the most versatile way to absorb damage, though, taking an armor rating is probably your best bet. It’s not a stunt, you do pay refresh to get it, usually.
Another way to survive taking a beating is for attacks to not actually hit you. If you can avoid getting hit consistently, that’s even better than being able to take a hit. The Athletics and Fight skills are focused on this. Strangely, there’s almost no stunts in Fate Core or DFRPG along these lines, except two. The first is from the DFRGP, which has some different rules, so I had to tweak it to work with Fate Core:
Redirected Force: When you roll Fight to defend against a Fight roll, you gain a boost on a success, and a success with style gives you a full aspect (instead of the usual boost) with one free invocation.
Even that doesn’t one barely helps you survive better, other than giving you an aspect to invoke to increase your defense against it next time. Interestingly, this aspect actually crosses boundaries into the other focus of tanks, helping your allies to avoid damage by allowing them to invoke the aspect for an increased defense roll. Of course, you have to word the aspect in a way that allows for it to be used defensively.
Slippery Target: Provided you’re in darkness or shadow, you can use Stealth to defend against Shoot attacks from enemies that are at least one zone away.
Being a Stealth-based stunt, this doesn’t help most tanks. But if you design a stealth tank, more power to you, brother.
There is another stunt, Armor of Fear, which is a Provoke stunt in the core book, that lets you temporarily use Provoke as your defensive skill against Fight attacks. Depending very heavily on where you spread your skill points, this can be help you avoid damage, or it could simply just bring you up to par.
So far, we’ve gone over stunts that already exist, but let’s make a couple of our own.
Walk it Off (Physique): Gain an additional 1-stress physical stress box.
This is similar to No Pain, No Gain, but it works with stress instead. Since stress is able to “heal” with just a little rest, it can only soak up 1, as opposed to the 2 shifts that No Pain, No Gain soaks up.
Walk it Off Some More (Physique): Requires Walk it Off. Can be taken more than once. Increase the size of the bonus stress box from Walk it Off by 1.
This is a stunt that stacks onto Walk it Off that allows you to get a little bit more use out of it. It can even stack on top of itself for a really nice, big bonus stress box.
Roll With The Punch (Fight): When you tie on a Fight defense roll, your opponent grants you a boost along with you granting them one.
I’m a little tossed up about whether “along with” should be “instead of”. I originally went with “instead of”, but I decided to go with a safer option.
Misdirecting Attack (Fight): When you deal a consequence with a Fight attack to a target, you gain a +2 bonus to a Fight defensive roll against the target’s Fight attack or create advantage roll.
This one allows you to be a better defender by being a better attacker. It only really helps in close combat between you and an enemy, though.
Shifty (Athletics): Choose a weapon type: swords, maces/hammers, knives, fists, guns, etc. You have a +2 to defense rolls against that type of weapon.
Take a Hit (Athletics): When you succeed with an Athletics defense roll, you can decide to take a 1-shift hit to be granted a boost against the attacker. If you succeed with style, you can take the 1-shift hit to turn the boost into a full aspect with a free invocation.
This last stunt doesn’t directly cause you to take less damage than normal – in fact, you take more – but it’s a 1-shift hit for a 2-shift increase to be used when you choose. That boost can be used to gain better defensive rolls in the future, potentially against attacks that would maim you otherwise.
Protect Your Allies
There, again, are two ways main ways to accomplish the goal of protecting your allies: drawing attention onto you so that you’re attacked instead, or increasing your allies’ defenses
The first thing I want to bring up about drawing attention is the new action I came up with a while ago, called Intercept, which I mentioned as inspiration at the beginning of the article. If the action isn’t house-ruled into the game for everyone to use, you can gain the action via a stunt, if you like.
I’m not sure if there are any existing stunts for this, and frankly, I don’t want to take the time to go through all the stunts in Fate Core and DFRPG to find them. There’s all sorts of skills these stunts could be tied to: Athletics to interpose yourself, Deceive to trick the enemy into attacking you instead of someone else, Fight to taunt in others with your skill or use special techniques to draw them in, Physique maybe to show yourself off as a taunt, Provoke to, well… , provoke them into attacking you, and good Shooting can draw attention. That’s 6 potential skills.
Technically, you don’t need any stunts to pull this off well; you can just use one of the skills in the described way with Create Advantage to create an aspect that draws them in somehow. But that’s just a little boring, so I’ll come up with some for more coolness.
All Eyes on Me: Spend a Fate Point and describe an action that would draw the attention of everyone around you. A Situation Aspect is created called ____ is the Center of Attention.
What’s nice about this stunt is its inevitability. If you want to be the center of attention, you will be. This aspect can be invoked positively or negatively or even compelled by both sides to control the battlefield (even social battlefields) around you. It can be highly dynamic and flexible.
Mark (choose one of the skills listed above): When you use Create an Advantage to draw attention to yourself with the chosen skill and succeed (or succeed with style), the Aspect become a Mark Aspect. When you mark someone with a Mark Aspect, they must use their next action to Attack or Create an Advantage against you or else take a -2 penalty on their roll for that action. After that action is over, it becomes a normal Aspect.
This is heavily inspired by 4E D&D’s Fighter’s mark. It can be tweaked to use a different trigger, but I really like this idea.
I didn’t give you very many ideas for stunts to draw attention, but I think they’re all flexible enough to count as two each at least.
Boosting Allies’ Defenses
The most universally helpful way to boost an ally’s defense that doesn’t even require stunts is to create advantages on baddies, especially those that are likely to attack your allies. As mentioned several times before, those aspects can be invoked (with your permission, which you will be nice enough to give) by your allies in order to get better defense rolls.
As useful as aspects are for this goal, we’re here for stunts. I actually checked to see if there were any stunts along these lines and I couldn’t find any, so I’ll have to do all the work again 🙂
Stalwart Defender (?): While you’re close to an ally, you can take a -1 penalty to attack rolls to grant that ally a +2 to defend rolls against Attack or Create Advantage rolls that your character could potentially help defend against.
It’s difficult to write the intention of what things the defend roll could help against, but I decided to leave it fairly open rather than highly descriptive in order to cover cases I didn’t think of.
Inspire Allies (Rapport): When you are in the most dangerous area of a battlefield, you can roll Rapport to Create an Advantage called Inspirational Act of Heroism which has 4 free invocations (5 when you succeed with style). You cannot invoke this aspect, and you cannot stack multiple free invocations from this aspect.
I was going to say that the invocations could only be used for defensive rolls, but I decided that the given restrictions were better. With some thought, I’m sure you could figure out different skills to apply to make it fit your character better, too.
Okay, I’m a bit creatively-spent, so I hope you guys enjoy these stunts that you can use to create a good tank/defender character in Fate.